CHRISTCHURCH’S mayor has said that the town is “ahead of the game” as the high street has welcomed a dozen new shops during lockdown.

New figures released from the Local Data Company and accountancy firm PwC show that a record number of UK shops have closed during the first half of 2020 due to the coronavirus lockdown.

However, Christchurch looks to have bucked the national trend, having welcomed new shops onto its high street including Eat27 in Saxon Square, the Oxxo convenience store and artisan bakery Mark Bennett’s.

Mayor Lesley Dedman said: “It seems that Christchurch is ahead of the game, in that we are opening more coffee shops, restaurants and specialist shops to convert what was once a simple retail offer.

“This is what is being recommended by the experts on high street retail, and we are lucky to be able to do this.

“Having an historic centre, with our Christchurch castle and our Norman house, the priory, and our Red House Museum has given us such a good start, and we have always had many independent small retailers in such things as novelties, or high end clothing.

Bournemouth Echo:

“Certainly today I have just come back from the Monday market which was almost too crowded in this time of social distancing, and find the town buzzing, so yes, Christchurch people were all out enjoying what the town is offering.”

Nationally, Local Data Company and accountancy firm PwC found a total of 11,000 chain operator outlets shut between January and August this year.

Around 5,000 shops opened, leaving a net decline of 6,001 stores, almost double the drop during the same period last year.

However, Christchurch high street is continuing to flourish during a time of national turmoil.

Along with new stores, some of Christchurch’s well known businesses such as the Bodega restaurant have reopened, drawing more people to the high street.

Christchurch Chamber of Trade president Andrew Barfield said: “Christchurch has so many owner-managed retailers that not only have extensive local knowledge but source products locally.

Bournemouth Echo:

"By spending money on the high street, you are supporting the local economy as well as supporting the employment of local individuals

"People are spending money locally and recruiting people from local schools which in turn leads to more money staying in the area, it has become a self-perpetuation."

As part of BCP Council’s Rediscover Locally campaign, the chamber is encouraging people to shop locally and support independent businesses whilst also adhering to social distancing guidelines.

Mr Barfield said: “The retailers have worked so hard to make their premises safe for people to visit. Hospitality and leisure is a very important part of Christchurch as it not only helps businesses, but it helps people socialise and promote health and wellbeing.

“Footfall is always a challenge. If people feel safe and empowered to venture out to the high street, then they will return to their usual shopping experience.

“I would like resident to continue shopping locally, spending locally and supporting our local businesses but above all stay safe.”