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Diss shopkeeper says stores may not survive coronavirus

A shop owner has warned that there “might not be a high street to come back to” once the dust has settled following the coronavirus crisis.

Juliette Atkinson, who runs Fredricks Fine Foods, in St Nicholas Street, Diss, has urged residents to put their spending power behind local, independent businesses in the town, which are desperately trying to stay afloat as the coronavirus pandemic continues to decimate the global, national and local economy.

Mrs Atkinson, who has run the deli store for six years, said: “We have to try to keep going – this virus will change the high street if it continues for any length of time.

Juliette Atkinson, from Fredricks Fine Foods, and Faye Jackson, from Natural Food Store Co-op.Picture: Mecha Morton
Juliette Atkinson, from Fredricks Fine Foods, and Faye Jackson, from Natural Food Store Co-op.Picture: Mecha Morton

“If people don’t support the shops, there won’t be a high street to come back to.

“The shops are working hard to ensure that we will have a future – it’s more of a lifestyle choice to run a shop than a great money-making opportunity.

“Now it’s the community’s chance to support the shops that are open. People can use this as a way to rejuvenate the high street and find out how fun it is to shop in your local area.”

Fredricks Fine Foods has joined forces with two other neighbouring stores – health store Natural Foodstore, and DA Browne Butchers – in co-ordinating deliveries.

The stores have joined a growing list of restaurants and eateries in the town that are offering the service.

Mrs Atkinson said: “It’s not easy to get anything online from a supermarket, which is why are working together to co-ordinate deliveries.

“We are helping each other, and helping the community in turn.

“A lot of people think that it’s cheaper to shop in your local supermarket than in a shop, which isn’t necessarily the case.”

Mrs Atkinson remains uncertain about how sustainable the newly-adopted and increasing popular business model will prove to be.

On the question of whether Fredricks Fine Foods will still be open in a year’s time, Mrs Atkinson said: “I think its very likely that we won’t. I’ve got to run the fridges, pay the rent, pay the gas bill.

“I have already furloughed one employee, but I have still got to pay her until at least May, depending on when the Government gives us the money.

“She can go and volunteer, but she’s not allowed to do anything to help the shop.”

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