“TWO serious retailers” are moving into Windsor town centre as footfall is “coming back to normal levels”.

It was anticipated for footfall to increase near Christmas – but it was heard at a Windsor Town Forum meeting that over the summer months to now, data shows it has almost returned to normal levels.

Paul Roach, Windsor town manager, said he has currently seen footfall down by 16 per cent on this same period last year and from January 2020, footfall has gone down by 42 per cent.

He said: “We have seemed to bounce back a little better than certain other parts of the country.”

Although not for every sector, Mr Roach said despite the footfall being down, the amount of money people are spending in the town centre is slightly higher.

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Some businesses have permanently closed as the Vape Store, Laura Ashley, and Bare Minerals and a “large chunk” of businesses in the town centre have not reopened as of yet.

Currently Windsor has a vacancy rate of 9.4 per cent – which is around one per cent shy off the UK average – where if those businesses do not reopen, it could drop to at least 16 per cent.

Mr Roach said: “We’re still waiting to see what’s going to happen with those businesses and it’s a difficult time. There’s no question about it.

“Retailers have struggled, hospitality has struggled and is likely to continue to struggle, and the fear that there is a second lockdown about to take place.”

However, two new “serious retailers” will be moving in the former Top Shop and Timberland units in Windsor Yard – which Mr Roach said he could not name yet.

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As well as checking and communicating with local businesses about complying with the latest public health guidance, a social media campaign was launched called ‘My Royal Borough’ for independent outlets to promote themselves as well as their offers such as their version of the government’s Eat Out to Help Out scheme.

One of the communication checks is making sure businesses have a registered, unique QR code and are recording the test and trace data in the event of an outbreak.

All of the trees in Peascod Street as well as a small number of benches have been removed in order to maintain social distancing.

This removal has also allowed to look at the safe reintroduction of some the regular independent food markets to return to the town centre with the current government guidance in place.

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Works were undertaken on “high-risk areas” such as Thames Street, Thames Avenue, and Datchet Road for the footpaths to be widened to support social distancing.

Inspector Tracey Croucher gave an update on the crime figures in Windsor where she said the police have been called for Covid-19 breaches and with the retuning level of demand pre-lockdown, more specifically violent offences which have increased.

She said: “Demand on police services is going to go up further over the next six months as we come into the Christmas period which we know goes up anyway.”

From July 20 to September 20, 21 burglaries, 52 motor vehicle thefts, and 23 bicycle thefts were recorded in the Windsor area, most of which were down compared to the same period last year.