Business ‘through the roof’ as non-essential shops reopen for the first time in weeks
- Credit: Charlie Barwick / @cbarwickphotography
Independent business owners in March were all smiles as they welcomed shoppers for the first time in weeks amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
We visited a handful of shops which opened their doors for the first time since the Covid-19 lockdown began and found out what life has been like.
Ellen and Ali from Paper-Chain said business was “through the roof” after opening on Monday (June 15) and they have already had queues of shoppers waiting outside their store.
When asked how they are coping with social distancing guidelines, Ellen said: “We have a maximum of three customers in the store at any one time and our customers are adhering to the markings we have put in place.
She added: “We offer a free delivery service and a loyalty scheme for customers and we work our very hardest to make sure our customers are leaving with a smile on their face.”
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Phil from Outer Rim Toys, the only independent toy shop in March, discussed with us how business was booming in the first week of reopening his doors.
He said: “It was nice to welcome back such supportive customers into the shop after a tough time for the business.
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“We have a variety of toys suitable for all ages and all hobbies and our aim is to differentiate from those major upmarket chains with our good quality products and reasonable prices.”
When we asked Phil about government guidelines, he said: “We are coping very well, customers are being respectful and sticking to social distancing within the store which makes the store a pleasant place to be during such a tough time.”
We also visited the family-run business Greetings to find out what business has been like over the past week.
The store manager Nigel said: “It’s not been easy coming back to work.
“As most people visit March for the cafes, restaurants, hairdressers and nail salons, the town itself hasn’t had as many visitors as usual therefore taking a toll on our business.”
He added: “We have all the social distancing guidelines in place, but it has been a struggle to get some customers to adhere to them.
“We are a family-run independent business who take pride in our store and we are always willing to go the extra mile for customers so it’s tough for us when customers aren’t sticking to the rules we have put in place for their safety.”
Dave from March Quality Meats showed us the one-way system they have in place and the PPE offered to the staff to wear if they wish too.
They also have Perspex screens over the counters and a maximum of three individuals at any one time in the store.
Dave told us he was very worried for the business at the beginning of the lockdown: “We supply a lot of food to schools, pubs and restaurants etc,” he said.
“So, with those being closed, I was worried our business was going to find it very tough during the pandemic.
“We have continued to supply and deliver to local elderly care homes and our most vulnerable customers.
“Some of our staff members are vulnerable too so those able to work have been working extra hard to make sure our customers are receiving the supplies they need.”
Bobby, a long-term employee, said: “We are known to be more interactive with our customers than major supermarket chains and I think that’s why we get the business we do.
“We like to give them advice on how to cook the meats they are purchasing, and we produce the food ourselves in store.”
From June 15, all non-essential businesses could reopen after only food and essential shops could remain open due to the Covid-19 outbreak.
With strict social distancing measures in place, more shops across Fenland are slowly reopening for the first time in weeks amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Business secretary, Alok Sharma, confirmed that non-essential shops in England could reopen again, saying the move will “allow high streets up and down the country to spring back to life”.
Speaking at a government daily briefing, he said: “This is the latest step in the careful restarting of our economy, and will allow high streets up and down the country to spring back to life.”
After speaking to these independent stores in March, businesses seem to be happily back up and running after such a tough time for the economy.