Coronavirus: Worthing’s traders facing uncertain futures amid quarantine fears

Worthing’s traders may be forced to ‘get creative’ as they navigate through Coronavirus, according to the town centre manager.

Business are battling reduced sales and staff shortages and social isolation and fears over the virus spreading force potential shoppers to stay at home.

Worthing’s town centre manager, Sharon Clarke, said traders had barely recovered from Brexit uncertainty and the bad weather, to find ‘everything has stopped’ during the outbreak.

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“Businesses are very concerned about what’s going on,” she said.

Montague Street

“People can’t plan ahead at the moment, which is making things difficult. Footfall is obviously down from people self-isolating.

“Business are having to make decisions day by day because nobody knows what’s going to happen. Nobody’s been in this situation before, so we are having to review every day, but everybody is trying to carry on business as usual.”

The visitor economy had been worst hit, she said. At a time when traders were usually preparing to recruit seasonal workers for the summer, many are taking a more cautious approach as they worry about what lies ahead.

If the Government moves forward with plans to ban mass gatherings, as has been the case in many European countries, summer staples such as Worthing Festival and Worthing Pride could be cancelled in a major blow to local businesses which rely on the increased footfall.

Businesses could have to ‘get creative’, Sharon said, perhaps branching out to offer delivery services for people in self-isolation.

But she encouraged any traders in difficulty to not be afraid to ask for support.

Organisations such as HMRC and banks had already helped Worthing’s business community, she said, offering extensions on VAT bills to keep cash flow running.

She also urged the public to be sensible in the face of panic buying and stockpiling.