Manchester’s independent retailers have welcomed moves by the city council to revive the local economy following widespread rioting.
The council has introduced a campaign called I Love Manchester – which includes free car parking and free travel for a weekend on the city’s Metrolink tram network, as well as street entertainment, in an effort to encourage shoppers to return.
Amir Tahir, store manager of premium indie Aspecto in the city’s Triangle Shopping Centre, said: “It’s a great idea to try and encourage people to shop again. We definitely saw a drop in sales after the riots, so hopefully this campaign will bring customers back, although we haven’t noticed it yet.”
Paul Turner-Mitchell, co-owner of young fashion indie 25 Ten in Rochdale, which has benefitted from the campaign, agreed: “Its response has been pretty impressive and just shows what a local authority can do when it puts its mind to it.
The campaign has got the region behind local shops, generated a real buzz and launched a great package of support. Making the entire Metrolink network free last weekend combined with free street parking and [car park operator] NCP waiving charges is a good start.”
But he added: “It’s a shame it takes scenes of shameful rioting before councils finally show real pride in their shopping areas.”
Manchester witnessed some of the most severe rioting in the UK, with violence and looting on August 8 and 9. Hot spots included the Arndale Centre, Market Street and Deansgate, while neighbouring Salford was also hard hit. Stores hit by the rioting included Pretty Green, Diesel, Miss Selfridge, French Connection and JD.