BUSINESS owners are appealing for people to overcome their reluctance to go to the shops and support local traders amid a sharp decline in customers.

Traders were relieved to throw open their doors on Monday June 15, with some businesses in the town centre achieving record sales in their week of reopening.

However, five weeks later, businesses have seen a drastic decrease in footfall in the area, leading to businesses having difficulty predicting how busy they will be.

Alan Rowett, Owner of the Vault Vinyl Records, said: “It has been a really odd period for us. The first day we reopened was really busy but now it has just dropped off a cliff.

“Usually you are able to predict how busy you will be, with weekends being busier than weekdays. Now you open the door and you don’t know what the day is going to be like.

“People don’t seem to have the appetite for being out and about. It is the first week of the school holidays and it is like tumbleweed out there.”

The record shop is looking to the postponed Record Store Day, due to be held on Saturday August 29.

The annual date for celebrating record shops, normally held on the third Saturday of every April, is usually the business’s busiest day of the year. With current restrictions, Mr Rowett is unsure how the day will unfold.

He added: “It is an annual celebration of vinyl and artists release new material to coincide with then so that will hopefully draw people into the shop.

“Usually on that day, the shop is absolutely packed so that will be an interesting one to deal with. It is usually busier than Christmas for us so we will have to see how it goes.”

Business owners have also said that the enforcement of face masks, which are now compulsory when entering shops and supermarkets, will cause further barriers to people going to shops.

After attaining record sales in its first week of reopening, having welcomed back customers on Saturday July 4, Bond’s hairdressers on Old Christchurch Road has also had a big drop off in clients.

Manager Matt Clarke said: “The first week was really busy for us but then the week after it just went quiet again. I am not entirely sure why.

“There are no students and office workers about now and, even though it is the summer holiday now, there are just not many people about.

“I have been here for six years and I have never seen anything like this before, it is just weird.”

Ashes Menswear on Old Christchurch Road in Bournemouth has recorded a steady rise in customers since reopening, from 66 per cent of its expected customers tally for this time of year in its first week to 80 per cent last week.

Co-owner of Keiron Clarke said: “People are still scared to come out shopping. No one is needing to wear nice clothes, there are no weddings, no Ascot, no Wimbledon so there is very little reason for people to go out and buy suits and jackets