Non-essential shops are reopening for business after coronavirus lockdown
The easing of lockdown restrictions in England means that from Monday tens of thousands of non-essential shops can reopen after an enforced three-month shutdown.
Just one in five English stores have traded through the lockdown, according to an analysis of more than 600 town centres by the Local Data Company.
The relaxation of restrictions will increase that figure to 70% as household names ranging from John Lewis and Primark to Currys PC World and Waterstones reopen with Covid-19 safety measures in place.
Fashion retailers were forced to write off a season as a result of lockdown but Primark is returning with a bang on Monday, opening all 153 of its stores in England. Marks & Spencer, the UK’s biggest clothing retailer, will also reopen shuttered clothing departments as well as its outlet stores.
Shoe shops are also opening their doors again with a whole new season of footwear on offer. Shoes tried on in Kurt Geiger stores will be quarantined for 24 hours before another customer can try them on, the retailer says. It is opening 24 of its 57 stores on Monday, but is being cautious and only allowing one customer in every 15 sq metres of space – double the government guidelines.
You won’t be able to try on a Nike tracksuit or Adidas T-shirt in the changing rooms yet, but JD Sports is pressing ahead with the opening of all 309 of its English stores on day one. Every branch will have a “host” on hand to manage access and answer any customer questions about new safety protocols. Returns will be separated from other stock for 72 hours to reduce coronavirus transmission risk.
A first wave of John Lewis branches will open on Monday, with shoppers asked not to try on clothes and to use disposable covers before testing sofas as part of a new safety regime. Rival Debenhams is also opening more than 90 stores, with House of Fraser set to return during the course of the week.
Working from home has resulted in an online sales boom for tech stores but some UK consumers have struggled with new laptops and desktop computers. Currys PC World is opening 131 stores with an initial focus on helping with tech queries. New signs will advise customers to ask staff for a demo rather than touching the tech in store themselves. The shops are also offering a free recycling service for old tech.
Music fans will once again be able to flick through the racks of vinyl in their local record store. Entertainment chain HMV is reopening 93 stores and, after using hand sanitiser, customers will be able to get their hands on the records, CDs and DVDs they have been coveting. The retailer is also offering a personal shopping service called “list and leave” for customers who would rather provide a shopping list for staff to fulfil on their behalf.
After several months of working through unread books at home, shoppers will be able to browse the shelves of a bookshop again. It will be different, though. Waterstones, the UK’s biggest book chain, is asking shoppers to set aside any book they touch on trolleys to be wheeled away into storage for at least 72 hours before being put back on shelves again.
The Lego and Paw Patrol sets will be in their boxes, and there will be no visits from Peppa Pig or members of the Power Rangers, but toy stores will be able to welcome children again. Family-run chain The Entertainer is reopening 160 stores in Monday.
Couples have been sizing up engagement rings online and, with holidays and celebrations cancelled, the UK jewellery trade is hopeful Britons will be in the mood to spend. The owner of the H Samuel and Ernest Jones chains says jewellery and watches will be cleaned before and after handling, with stores kitted out with ultrasonic and ultraviolet steriliser machines.