News Article

Cheshire West & Chester welcomes shoppers and visitors back

27 April 2021

Retailers and visitor attractions across Cheshire West and Chester have reported a positive first week of trading following the easing of lockdown restrictions.

The Council, the borough's Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) and traders have been working together to make the reopening of shopping centres as safe and as welcoming as possible.

Hands, Face and Space is still the message for visitors and shoppers alike. By allowing a little more time, planning, booking ahead and being careful, the high streets across the borough are hoping to capitalise on the strong start.

Chester BID manager Carl Critchlow said: "We really couldn't have asked for a better start, our hospitality sector was thriving, retailers positive, and in the sunshine the city is looking clean and welcoming."

There is a reminder for pre-booking pubs and restaurants as only a few businesses are operating on a walk-in basis. To avoid any delays on arrival please plan your visit in advance by visiting businesses websites and please remember to cancel bookings if you are unable to attend.

Attractions across the borough have re-opened and a summer events programme is being planned. Chester Zoo also welcomed television cameras as their doors could finally reopened.

Jamie Christon CEO of Chester Zoo and also chair of the Destination Chester group, said: "This first week has been the perfect start to our recovery from the well-documented challenges we've faced in recent times. When you take 560 dedicated staff all passionate about conservation, 20,000 incredible animals, a zoo packed full of amazing plants, 128 acres of superbly kept parkland and sunny weather; you get Chester Zoo at its magical best, and that's exactly what we've experienced since reopening."

Northwich also welcomed television cameras as the shops prepared to re-open. Footfall was 196 per cent up on 2020 (during lockdown), only 12 per cent down on 2019

Adam Gerrard, Northwich BID Project Manager said: "We've done well in the first week, traders were very positive with their results last week. A number of businesses opened to offer al-fresco in the day and more opened at the weekend for evening drinking. It's gone down well with the local community, there's lots of positive messages on social about there being an incredible buzz in the high street.

"When we handed out thank you bags, I could feel the buzz myself, people were smiling, socialising safely and just enjoying the ability to venture out."

If the Covid infection rates can be kept under control, the Government roadmap will allow further indoor attractions and hospitality to open next month. Hotels, restaurants shops and attractions are now looking forward to a steady recovery, hopefully to the pre-Covid times where the borough welcomed 36.4 million tourists accounting for £2.12bn for the local economy (2018).

Gemma Davies, Cheshire West and Chester Council's Director for Housing and Economy said: "The first week has been a very good start for our local businesses, definitely helped by the good weather. Chester's footfall counters recorded over 61,000 people on Saturday 17 April, compared with the same time last year when the country was at the start of the pandemic and just 6,000 people were recorded.

"Northwich is reporting similarly high numbers returning to the high street with numbers fast approaching 2019 levels.

"Moving forward we have plans for events to welcome visitors back, at the same time there is a growing list of exciting projects across the borough including Ellesmere Port's Hub building, Chester Northgate and Chester High Street Heritage Action Zone, Winsford Town centre developments and the Northwich Market site."