Festive trading to save many Romford independent shops, according to BID director

Romford BID director Julie Frost.

Romford BID director Julie Frost. - Credit: Complete Ltd

Trading over the festive season will save many Romford independent shops from closure, according to the boss of a business group.

Julie Frost, director of Romford Business Improvement District (BID), told the Recorder that the Christmas period offers the prospect of raising the spirits of shoppers and businesses.

Havering is in tier two, which means all non-essential shops can now open once again, and Julie felt that trade in Romford town centre is well placed to bounce back from the impact of lockdown two.

She said: “Out of the past 12 months, shop doors have been open for less than five.

“Without the significant boost in trading which the festive period brings for the town centre many businesses will simply fail, or the owners choose to close. 

“Trading through December could prove to be just enough to restore the confidence and resolve of our business community to face whatever new situation the winter months bring.”

The borough has among the highest Covid-19 infection rates in the capital and it remains to be seen how virus levels change with a return to the tiered system.

When asked how important it was for independent businesses that London does not fall into tier three, Julie urged people to play their part in helping infection rates to fall to allow “full service” to resume in pubs and restaurants.

“Tier 3 would be particularly damaging to an already very weakened hospitality sector which has had to bear the brunt of the restrictions.”

Cabinet minister Robert Jenrick has revealed that shops will be allowed to open for up to 24 hours a day in the run-up to Christmas and in January, a move that Julie believes some Romford shops will take use of.

She said: “This will allow operators to offset the restriction placed on the numbers of customers allowed to enter their premises. 

“It will also broaden the opportunity for weekday shopping and give residents a further incentive to support their local town centre.”

Speaking directly to residents, she added: “With every penny you spend in Romford, you contribute to the community. Not necessarily in financial terms, but in helping to create a whole environment in which people want to come together.”

The BID is to launch its RM1 Club town centre app next week in a bid to support businesses and Julie urged people to download it by visiting rm1club.co.uk.