Andover Town Centre has started to open again as lockdown restrictions begin to lift after nearly 12 weeks. People’s safety has been number one consideration with a huge amount of background work preparing and ensuring that it is a safe and easy town for people to return. There has been strong
partnership working between BID, businesses and TVBC to ensure the town is ready.
Monday was the first day when many non-essential businesses were open, others are opening as the
week goes on. As people visit town, they will find retailers are well prepared. Many have taken
advantage of a professional health & safety risk assessment & signage that BID has facilitated with systems in place and good clear signage so that customers are aware of how to shop in individual stores and stay safe. The hospitality & leisure sector including pubs, restaurants, cafes has not been given the green light by government to start opening yet but it is expected that this may start to happen from early July.
Steve Godwin, BID Manager comments:
There is no doubt that retail is changing, and coronavirus has accelerated the changes. There is likely to be less retail but what we have will be of high quality where choice and customer service is vital. Many of our businesses have already adapted their business models and can offer an online presence and we have just announced a FREE customer delivery service for the independent businesses in the town helping them to compete with some national on line companies. This means that the people of Andover have the best of all worlds, retail where they
can see and visit the shops and products, online and a delivery service which includes the villages around as far as Ludgershall. As a small Hampshire market town, we are perfectly placed for a healthy future. Andover has large areas of pedestrianisation and plenty of room, unlike some of the larger town and cities around us that can’t offer that safety. The High Street and Chantry Centre have made plans of how people should safely distance and we have plenty of car parking which TVBC have made completely free for the first two hours.
For the consumer, local is becoming more important. We all have a social conscience, so shopping locally is important, and this is a real window of opportunity for the high street. Statistics are saying people don’t want to travel and prefer to buy locally. Local businesses are embracing the opportunities and challenges and we know that community and connection are vitally important to a town centre. When you think of how conveniently placed Andover is with ample and low-cost parking, we compete so well with larger town centres who may suffer. We have seen that recently with the demise of several big brand names, and the closing of departmental stores. Andover is fighting back, and our local high street has a great future where local, safety, ease of access and enjoyment is high on everyone’s agenda.