Of course shops, hospitality and other businesses have had to close for several months as part of government restrictions to limit further spread of the virus.
But there has clearly been far fewer people in town this year with the daily footfall average reducing by 35 per cent in 2020, which inevitably translates in a significant loss in sales for traders.
The situation has not been helped by several national multiples closing their outlets for good in Melton, such as Argos, Poundland, Clinton Cards and Hays Travel.
There is evidence that shoppers have returned in good numbers since the second lockdown was lifted last month but Melton BID chair, Lee Freer, said it was vital residents continued to support local businesses in the run-up to the festive season, whether that is buying gifts, food and drink for the Christmas holidays or decorations for the home.
He told the Melton Times: “It has been a very tough year for Melton traders and it really is a case of use it or lose it.
“It would be really great if local people supported our businesses this year to give them the boost they need.”
Even in November, when shoppers are usually out in force in search of Christmas presents, footfall decreased by 35 per cent compared to the same month a year before.
But Melton BID manager, Shelagh Core, said there have been encouraging signs in the last few weeks with more people in town and renewed interest in businesses taking on some of the empty units.
She told this newspaper this week: “Positively we have seen increases in weekly footfall towards the end of November, with a notable increase of 13.9 per cent in the first week of December with the lifting of coronavirus restrictions on December 2.
“The Vacancy rate remained at 7.5 per cent in October with, positively, five of those vacant units now let, subject to contract, including the former Hays Travel, JSW Insurance and Gracie’s units.
“Discussions are still being held with the landlords and agents of The Bell Centre to progress a pop-up shop on a six-week pilot scheme, with this looking to launch in February or March next year.”
Melton BID and Melton Borough Council joined forces this Christmas to run a ‘Stay Safe Shop Local’ campaign with window stickers distributed to town traders to diplay in their windows.
Parking will be free again on Friday in the council’s long stay car parks and special offers and discounts are being promoted via the Melton Town Centre App, which is free to download.
In a bid to encourage a shop local ethos in Melton this Christmas we’ve asked town centre businesses why people should visit them this festive season and this is what they told us:
“Come down to Sugar Shamrocks for lovely cakes, biscuits, cake decorating supplies and bespoke celebration cakes!”
Dionne and Naomi at Sugar Shamrocks, in Sherrard Street.
“We are a friendly, local salon which is not just a team but a family that takes pride in the safety and care of all our clients.”
Shirley Elliott, of Elliott Hair Design, Church Street.
“We offer our guests an extensive choice of culinary delights ranging from traditional English food, including a six-meat Sunday carvery to authentic Indian cuisine, complimented by a selection of fine wines, draught beers, cocktails, soft drinks and winter warmers, all available for takeaway.”
Liam Patel, Harboro Hotel, Burton Street.
“We can help you to choose the correct size and fit for all those important Christmas purchases.“
Steve Gamble, Wiseguys Menswear, Cheapside.
“We are an independent multi-sports retailer which is open every day in the run up to Christmas and offers loyalty card discounts - call and collect or take advantage of our free local home delivery service.”
Michael Cooke, Melton Sports, King Street.
“We are here to give you a special shopping experience, whether you are looking for something to wear or a Christmas present - we have everything from the perfect outfit to the perfect accessories.”
Joanne White, White Boutique, Market Place.
“We’re not just for musicians, we do tons of products, including a broad range of licensed band and TV/Film apparel, as well as consumer electronics such as headphones and BT speakers.”
Tom Griggs, Icon Music, King Street.
“Thank you for your continued loyalty and support, Merry Christmas and here’s to the back of 2020.... “
Jason Sharman, Simply Hair, Windsor Street.
“If you are looking for delicious food, Apurba is the perfect place for your next meal, either takeaway home delivery or collection only at the moment, with every dish made on-site from scratch, including curries, naan, rice and roti.”
Abdul Moohith, Apurba restaurant, Leicester Street.
“Visit us for a wide range of high quality, hand-crafted and unusual fairly-traded foods, hampers, gifts, clothes and cards; helping producers work their way out of poverty around the world.”
Polly Swann, Fairtrading Post, Market Place.
“We are a local independent jewellers and depend on our local community to help us through these difficult times - shopping local is now more important than ever, share the love this Christmas and help to keep your high street alive.”
Samantha Brown, Denhams, Sherrard Street.
“Leave IT to us, we offer a full IT support service for most digital devices, we have a shop so come and look for those elusive Christmas presents and
if you know of anyone who may need our services it would be great if you could recommend us.”
Ruth Lynsey, LC Computers, Bell Centre.
“Please visit our street markets on a Tuesday, Wednesday, or Saturday to purchase a range of local produce - we encourage everyone to shop local for your essentials or festive gifts.”
Billy Boulding, Town Bailiff, Melton Mowbray Town Estate.
“We really care, we will look after you as an individual and we can offer different accounts for different people - hopefully we can help you now and in 2021.”
Karen and the Melton team, Santander, Nottingham Street.