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Retailers frustration as road works extended ahead of Black Friday

PUBLISHED: 07:33 23 November 2018 | UPDATED: 10:51 23 November 2018

Barriers mean pedestrians are having to walk far out of their way to cross the road. Photo: Bethany Wales

Barriers mean pedestrians are having to walk far out of their way to cross the road. Photo: Bethany Wales

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As the Christmas shopping countdown begins, businesses in Attleborough have spoken about the impact major traffic works are continuing to have on footfall.

Sarah Horan, owner at Champagne Moments Boutique, said small independent retailers can't compete with Black Friday price cuts. Photo: Bethany WalesSarah Horan, owner at Champagne Moments Boutique, said small independent retailers can't compete with Black Friday price cuts. Photo: Bethany Wales

The £4.5m project to improve traffic flow and pedestrian safety has been causing disruption in the town centre since they started in early September.

Due to be finished by November 24, businesses and residents said they were frustrated the finish date had been delayed by an extra 11 days.

In a statement released yesterday, Norfolk County Council said Surrogate Street would be reopened to two-way traffic from 10am on Wednesday, December 5, with new traffic lights in place.

Lisa Collings, an assistant at Myhills Pet and Garden, Queen’s Square, said the works were causing the shop problems in what is normally their busiest period.

Traffic has been reduced to one lane on Surrogate Street as part of ongoing works to improve traffic in Attleborough. Photo: Bethany WalesTraffic has been reduced to one lane on Surrogate Street as part of ongoing works to improve traffic in Attleborough. Photo: Bethany Wales

She said: “This time of year you’d expect it to pick up with Christmas coming up but when roads are at a standstill out the front people are avoiding us. We’re frustrated because we’ve done everything we can, the Christmas stock is in and the windows are done but we’re standing here and nobody is coming in.”

David Self, 76, has lived in Attleborough for 23 years and said although he has always shopped in the town centre, barriers blocking pedestrian crossings meant he was struggling to walk in to town.

The Arlington Garden’s resident said: “I’m walking in but it takes much longer because I have to go all the way down the road and back again to cross over. I like going to the butchers and for coffee but the past couple of weeks my daughter brought my shopping round because the walk is too stressful with all that traffic going on.”

Despite many reporting a decrease in business, others said an appeal to shoppers to support the high street by Breckland Council had given sales a boost.

Jonathan Perfect, sales assistant at Aldridge Crafts on Queen’s Square, said: “Early on we noticed less business but people have got used to it and just allow more time to get into town. It’s been clear they want to keep coming in because we have an excellent high street.”

“Black Friday in a different way”

Sarah Horan, who owns Champagne Moments Boutique, Queen’s Square, said she could not compete with the black Friday price cuts offered by big retailers but that she hoped customers would stay loyal to excellent service.

She said: “We’re not doing Black Friday in the same way big businesses would because we don’t do many online sales, but people expect to get a bargain so I will be running promotions to entice people in.

You have to think all the time as a small independent retailer of ways to encourage customers with less disposable income to come in.

You don’t necessarily need to be as cheap as Primark but you have to go that extra mile so people enjoy the experience.

It’s trying to create that environment and give the best personal service you can.

There a wealth of talent in and around the town. It benefits people to support local businesses because they live here and nobody wants to see them go.”

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