Traders in Sussex face 'fight for survival' with Tier 4 rules in place

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Traders in Eastbourne face a 'fight for survival' as Tier 4 rules are introduced across Kent and Sussex.

The measures mean all non-essential shops must close, in what would normally be a busy time with post-Christmas sales.

There's further frustration too from business owners who can't understand why supermarkets are allowed to sell non-essential items but they're not.

There was no post-Christmas sales buzz in Eastbourne Credit:

Christina Ewbank is from Eastbourne Chamber of Commerce who have surveyed supermarkets in the town to examine what Covid-19 measures they have in place.

She said, "It was extremely disturbing. Some were very good at protecting their customers. One of them cleans their trolleys and baskets before people go into the store, but many of them are doing absolutely nothing.

Christina Ewbank is Chief Executive at Eastbourne's Chamber of Commerce Credit:

"I think people are very frustrated, some aren’t controlling the numbers that come in, some aren’t cleaning their touch points, and yet they can stay open and can almost steal their business while they’re forced to close.

"The independents have invested a huge amount of money on screens, and stickers and managing numbers in their stores, they clean their card payment patients. You go into a supermarket and it’s very often too busy, and when I spoke to a member of staff about cleaning the touch screens, he said ‘we haven’t got time for that’."

Julie Hunt has started selling her products online Credit:

Independent business owner Julie Hunt was open before Christmas under tier 2, but now has to close again.

Products from her gift shop are now being sold online, with financial support only providing some financial protection.

"We’re extremely grateful for the grant we received but compared to what we normally turnover it doesn’t really touch it. We’ve had to take out quite large loans to survive.

"It’s a nightmare. The most frustrating part is we don’t know when it’s going to end. It’s stop, start, stop start."

Eastbourne’s Business Improvement District (BID) has been providing traders with guidance, support and tools to help them through the pandemic.

They’ve been encouraging people to shop local and have started a directory of businesses in the town.

Leanna Forse from Eastbourne's Business Improvement District Credit:

Leanna Forse from the BID admits it’s tough,

“It’s a fight for survival. They don’t know what’s coming next, what’s around the corner, we think they’re getting somewhere and the shops are reopening and they’re getting customers coming back through their doors and all of a sudden it’s taken away again”.It's unclear how long non-essential shops will stay shut but the Government says the measures put in place will protect people’s health and stop the NHS from being overwhelmed.