Sunderland city centre businesses braced for bumper weekend

City centre businesses are getting ready for the first weekend since lockdown restrictions eased.

Friday, 16th April 2021, 4:15 pm

Non-essential shops were allowed to reopen from Monday, while leisure venues can serve people outside.

Sunderland Bid operations director Sharon Appleby is delighted with how the first week has gone: “Things have been really strong. Monday was really good and Tuesday and Wednesday were pretty similar,” she said.

“Primark, JD Sports, and Next are all doing very well but some of the independents are doing just as well as they were two years ago.

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Primark opens its doors on Monday morning

“There is just a really good, positive vibe about the place – and it is not just the shops doing well.

“Places like the Looking Glass have got people booked in right through the weekend and the places that are not taking bookings, that are letting people walk in, have got queues outside.

“That seems to be the same across the city – when I talk to the guys at The Stack at Seaburn, they are in the same position.

“If the weather holds, the weekend will be really busy.”

Queues outside Debenhams

Bridges boss Karen Eve said footfall figures on Monday had been on par with April 2019, the comparable period before the pandemic, but had been down slightly since.

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The fact the centre had reopened during the Easter beak was a possible factor, with families having other things to do while the schools were off: “We are look to see how footfall improves next week, when the children go back to school and people have more time for shopping,” said Karen.

Even if numbers were down, stores in the centre had been happy with how the first week had gone: “They have all reported good figures,” she said.

Karen Eve

"I have not spoken to anyone who has had a bad week. They have all achieved the targets they have been given and some have significantly exceeded them.

"I am heartened by the results and we are hoping that Saturday will be a big day with everyone who has been working during the week and will want to come out and have their first experience of shopping again.”

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