Hundreds of shoppers pour back into Market Harborough town centre as stores re-open
Hundreds of delighted shoppers poured back into sun-soaked Market Harborough town centre today, Monday June 15, as scores of stores re-opened
People took advantage of bright sunshine and temperatures topping 20C to head out as over 100 shops and businesses pulled up the shutters in Market Harborough, Lutterworth, Kibworth and Broughton Astley.
Both excited independent traders and national chains are opening their doors across Harborough as the Government eases the Covid-19 lockdown nationally after almost three months.
Frank Gilbert, 72, who owns Frank Gilbert Housewares on Market Harborough’s High Street, told the Harborough Mail: “I’m back open for business today after 12 weeks closed down – and I feel like a boy going back to school!
“I’m excited on the one hand.
“But on the other hand we are going into the unknown as well.”
The veteran Harborough shopkeeper added: “I shut down on the Saturday before the lockdown was imposed at the end of March.
“We have never experienced anything like this closure before and it’s been a very strange time.
“A lot of older people are still going to be wary but I think many local people will welcome the chance to get out and visit their favourite shops again.
“We’ll just take each day as it comes because it’s been a very unnatural few months, an unreal form of living.
“We’ll just keep an eye because it could well take a few weeks to settle down.”
Jim has celebrated running his fabled traditional houseware and hardware shop for a stunning 50 years this year after his parents Frank and Grace set it up in 1948.
“We love trading on our brilliant high street here in Market Harborough and have so many loyal local customers,” said tireless Jim, who works alongside his wife Janice, 69.
“It’s very important to start to open up again to get our economy fired up again.
“I must have lost thousands of pounds in takings over the three months we’ve been closed.
“We’ve lost about a quarter of the entire trading year.
“I’ve put a display out the front on the pavement with hand sanitiser and signs for shoppers.
“I’m only allowing one person into the shop for now – I might make that two if social distancing is cut to one metre.
“But I’m sure people will be sensible and I’m really looking forward to welcoming our customers back – we’ve missed them.”
Stretching back over 800 years, Market Harborough’s famous market will be totally re-opened tomorrow (Tuesday).
The indoor market’s Food Hall has been operating throughout the lockdown but now the General Hall will be thrown back open too.
Opening hours have been adjusted to 8am to 3pm for the Food Hall and 9am to 3pm for the General Hall.
Cllr Phil King, leader of Harborough District Council, has told the Mail: “It’s absolutely critical that our shops and businesses are beginning to return to normal.
“It will be vital on so many different levels to start to open up our fantastic town centre again.
“It’s already starting to show signs of life and it’s going to be great to pump even more heart and soul back in to our High Street.
“Most of our shops and stores have been closed for many weeks since the lockdown was imposed.
“So it’s crucial that our first-class businesses and outlets begin to re-open once again.
“And that’s not just true for Market Harborough but also our fellow towns in the district such as Lutterworth, Kibworth and Broughton Astley.”