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The ‘honest truth’ from Andover’s High Street

Lockdown Andover Tier 2 Businesses Adam Phillips

Andover Radio’s Adam Phillips and Ben Tuffin have been out into our high street to talk to local retailers about their experience of ‘lockdown’.

Adam, ‘The Money Guy’ talked to Dave Stanbridge from Tip Top Balloons and local artist Alex McGarry about how they have fared over the recent lockdown period and their experiences in exceptionally difficult times.

The video is part of a series of recordings by Adam Phillips who is investigating the reality of our high street; promoting #ShopAndover this Christmas.


There is no argument that local business owners have found survival difficult. This is not withstanding any reducing amounts of government grant that may be available. Whereas Adam discovered that the high street was “surprisingly busy”, there’s still a human aspect to running a business.

Entire families rely on there being buyers from locally-owned stores. The struggle that the high street faces has been exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic and the government’s restrictions.

Companies have, of course, adapted and changed their model. Bridge Street businesses like Photos2Print and Mooch both created a new online purchase and delivery service. Tip Top Balloons and Thorntons is no different.

Dave Stanbridge from the Union Street shop told Adam that they are now continue to provide a delivery service. But making changes a business that relies on footfall does not belie the need for customers and they are only battling multi-billion global companies like Amazon.

The owner of one of Andover’s longest running independently owned businesses explained, “The last month has been absolutely atrocious. We’ve been providing a click and collect service, but we’ve lost 80% of our business over the past month.

“People can’t come in and browse or buy. It’s hit us really hard.

“We’ve got a little money coming in from a [government] grant, but that lasts five minutes.

We’ve still got to pay rent, rates and all the other bills that go out. I want to thank our loyal customers who are still with us and supported us through lockdown. Hopefully we’ll get more people back in, but it’s such a hard time.

“You can go to a supermarket and have a hundred people all stood next to each other, but come into an independent shop and you’re not allowed one customer in the whole shop…

“The only people making money in the last month are the likes of Amazon and supermarkets”.

Smaller, locally-owned businesses are likely to be worst hit this year. Christmas should normally be a good time of the year for local shopping, but the Tier Two restrictons in place and lack of a ‘Christmas run-up’ will mean things are likely to be extremely tough.

Local artist Alex McGarry whose studio is on Waterloo Court said, “Business is as usual really, everyone now knows the rules.

Alex adds, “I’ve been lucky that I can carry on painting during lockdown, although my doors have been physically shut.”

Alex who opened her gallery in Andover last year has diversified her business to provide her animal paintings as a variety of gifts .

Andover Radio and the Love Andover Observer are asking people who live and work in Andover to #ShopAndover this Christmas. The ‘Plight of our Landlords’ is also investigated in this week’s edition of the Love Andover Observer. Pub landlords, like ‘non-essential shop’ owners have also found this last lockdown period painfully tough.

Adam who offers his financial services experience as a ‘Martin Lewis of Andover’ concluded, “We were planning to go to as many local businesses as possible, We only managed to get into a few because every shop we’ve been in to has been packed with customers.

“It’s nice to see Andover town alive again. It’s worth remember that car parking is free until 10th December.

“I urge you to come into Andover town and spend your money with our local retailers.”

About the author

David Harber

David Harber is the founder and Managing Director of Love Andover, including the Love Andover Observer newspaper and 95.9FM Andover Radio. He is a fellow at the Royal Society of Arts and a card carrying member of the Nation Union of Journalists.