'Nothing worse than shut shops': Relief in Great Yarmouth as lockdown lifts

carol and graham channing

Graham and Carol Channing said they were thrilled that the shops were back open again - Credit: Ella Wilkinson

The festive season got off to a promising start in Great Yarmouth as shoppers headed out for the first time in a month.

Though a handful of residents were tentative about hitting the high street so soon after lockdown, many shoppers around Market Gates and the Market Place thought it was "fantastic" businesses could open again.

Sylvia Berry, out with her husband, said there was "nothing worse or more depressing" than seeing shops with their shutters down.

sylvia berry

Sylvia Berry said it was "fantastic" seeing so many people out - Credit: Ella Wilkinson

She said: "I think it's fantastic being able to go shopping and brilliant seeing people out. 

"Last month, the place was a ghost town. It was totally dead. But now I'm getting into the Christmas spirit." 

In fact, Carol and Graham Channing were more relieved the shops were open for retailers' sake than their own.


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Mrs Channing said: "It's exciting. We've been out buying Christmas decorations. We want to support local retailers because they've really suffered."

Mike Wallis, who sat outside Sweet Creams on Regent Road, said what mattered to him was not shopping, but being able to "watch the world go by".

regent road great yarmouth

Mike Wallis said he wasn't so bothered about shopping, but was desperate to get back to his favourite coffee shop to watch the world go by - Credit: Ella Wilkinson

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"I'm 82, and I don't get out much. I've been desperate to sit here with my cup of coffee at my favourite place and people-watch", he said. 

"When I woke up this morning my first thought was, will Helen's place be open today?"

For Helen Evangelos, the cafe's owner, it has been heart-warming to have regulars waiting so eagerly on her return.

Sweet Creams Regent Road

Helen Evangelos from Sweet Creams on Regent Road - Credit: Ella Wilkinson

She said: "I live in Oulton Broad, so didn't want to take two buses here just to open for takeaways.

"It's lovely being back because, to be honest, I was sick to death of having nothing to do."

However, for Allen and Gill Hilton, who had come for a walk along the seafront, things were moving a bit too quickly.

Allen and Gill Hilton

Gill and Allen Hilton said things were moving a bit too fast for them, and that they'd be acting "ultra careful" this Christmas, even when restrictions are lifted - Credit: Ella Wilkinson

"I'm on the government's shielding list for a heart condition, and catching that virus would be a death sentence for me", Mr Hilton said.

"It's nice to see other people enjoying themselves but we're not quite ready. Even small crowds are making us nervous at the moment."

Likewise for Debby Dean, from The Jewellery Box further down Regent Road, the day had got off to a disappointing start.

"It's the holiday drag at this end", she said. "I wasn't expecting a rush. Our season is pretty much over now."

Helen Evangelos

Helen Evangelos from Sweet Creams on Regent Road said it was great to be back after being closed for a month - Credit: Ella Wilkinson


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