BUSINESSES across Fordingbridge are adapting to Covid-19 and keen for shoppers to continue supporting them.

The Journal has been catching up with businesses about trading after lockdown was lifted and preparations for the winter months.

Tim Devane, who runs Timothy’s in High Street, said Covid has impacted all aspects of retail, especially fashion, but added: “Because we are small in Fordingbridge we have bounced back rather quickly and that is down to the support of the local people.”

He says the support seen after reopening after lockdown has “continued tremendously” and shops like the grocers, the baker and Prices the butcher had “kept the interest in the High Street” during the lockdown.

Dave Tree, of All the Cool Stuff in High Street, said the August and summer period was “very good” in the town which was helped by the popularity of staycations.

However, he says as schools reopen the town usually goes “very quiet” but it is “quieter than it would normally be”.

He said: “There is generally a bit of a change in people’s attitudes and understanding that supporting local businesses is a good thing. It is still mostly stuck in the realms of fresh food and coffee shops but it is starting to permeate through to other things like what I do. People are realising there are several benefits - local knowledge, customer service, it is better for the environment and better for your mental health as you are getting out and engaging with people.”

In June, businesses in the town joined forces to launch the Keep the Heart Beating campaign to encourage people to continue to support local business and help them recover from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

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Dave says people have been supportive of the campaign and the high number of independent shops sets Fordingbridge apart, which he said was a “real reason” for people to come to the town. He also says there has been a shift in people shopping locally and that he wants to encourage people to be “open” to trying other local businesses they would not necessarily use.

Caroline Roylance, who runs The George on Bridge Street, said since reopening it has been operating as a restaurant and has built outside dining pods in the car park, which have proved popular with customers.

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It will also be reopening its shop which Caroline says will “give another reason to come to us and to Fordingbridge”.

“We’ve noticed as other places in the country have been going into lockdown we have been getting progressively quieter. It is almost like people are losing the confidence that they built up. We are just going to carrying on being as safe as possible. We are nowhere near as busy as we should be but we are not expecting to be because it is a completely different situation,” she added.

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“We need as many different offerings as possible. But it is a lot quieter. There are still holidaymakers about but I think people are going out less, eating out less, going to the shops less. They have got used to buying stuff online over lockdown and maybe don’t feel as safe going out.”

She said an offer on parking was needed to encourage people into the town.

Caroline also encouraged the community to support local business, adding: “If they want them to be here next year they need to support them over the winter.”

Clare Johnston, who runs the Gourmet Grocer, which stayed open during lockdown, says it has not been as busy as it was during that period but it is making preparations for Christmas. New tills and a click and collect service are going to be put in place.

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Clare who has been involved in the Keep the Heart Beating campaign said there has been a shift with people supporting local businesses.

“I do think there is a shift. If we can keep that momentum going that will be really beneficially. You appreciate what is on your doorstep when you can’t go anywhere else.”

She said footfall was “intermittent” but at this time of year weather was a factor.

“There is definitely a support for us, more so that wasn’t there previous. We’ve always had a loyal customer base and the shop has held its own.

“We just hope people will continue to support us. The bottom line is our our place on the high street is only safe with loyal customers. If they use us then obviously we can stay there but if goes quiet then we won’t be able to stay there.”

Marco Stefanini, the director of La Lambretta, which reopened in July, said his "great team" have shown "great resiliance and adaptability in these challenging times".

"The support and encouragement we have received from our customers has been amazing, our established customers have returned with enthusasim and the praise we have received from first-time guests, for example those visiting the area for the first time on a stay-cation's at Sandy Balls Holiday Village and during the warmer months at local campsites," he added.

"We are having to adapt and diversify continually. We are offering 'Eat Out to Help Out La Lambretta' Monday - Wednesday in October and November with 20% discount on food and continuing to offer take-away and free home-delivery."

Fordingbridge mayor Edward Hale said: “I believe the businesses in Fordingbridge have a great long term future because they offer different experiences from the standard shops in many other town centres.”