Town fights back after losing bank and 24-hour cashpoint
- Credit: Archant
Businesses in a market town which was stripped of its last bank have fought back from an uncertain future.
When Lloyds Banking Group decided to close its Bungay branch in May, the town also lost access to a 24-hour cashpoint.
It was the town’s fifth bank closure in four years and many feared the move would have a crippling impact on the local economy.
However, businesses have adapted to the changing times and some believe the town’s independent culture and heritage will pave the way to the future of the British high street.
Didy Ward, chairman of Bungay Events and Business Association (BEBA), said: “I think the town has adapted. People know that Bungay hasn’t got a cashpoint now so they make other arrangements.
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Mrs Ward explained all business had seen an increase in card transactions while market traders have also invested in card machines to make life easier for customers.
She added: “We all know the high street is struggling, people have less disposable income and there in uncertainty over Brexit.
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“If Marks and Spencer are closing branches you know the high street is in trouble. And the thing I was most afraid of was small independent shops, already struggling, would be forced to close.
“That hasn’t happened – which I am delighted about.”
Mrs Ward, who also owns Moth Crafts in Upper Olland Street, said: “Bungay is full of small independent shops and I think shops like ours are the future of the high street.
“We are able to adapt quicker and know instantly what our customers are looking for and can provide it.
“I know from visitors to Bungay from neighbouring towns and villages love coming here for the independent shops.
“The independent shops are a tourist attraction in their own right – they make the town.”
George Parker, who owns A Sweet for You in Earsham Street, likewise feels Bungay’s independent heritage gives it an edge.
The 33-year-old said: “I think people have got used to not having the bank in town. People generally have cards now rather than cash and having independent shops rather than chains helps.
“Everything here is unique rather than mass produced.”