As lockdown rules are becoming more and more relaxed (which is a whole new level of anxiety, nerves but also excitement) we are able to start enjoying a certain level of normality. Part of this relaxing of rules, is that a couple of weeks ago the shops opened. So for those serial shoppers, retail lovers and fashionistas this is brilliant news as they can so the long awaited post-lockdown shopping trip. And for shop owners, big or small, this is a chance to recover and try to survive this pandemic.
However I know for a lot of people, this is extremely nerve-racking. The thought of physically going in shopping might be uncomfortable. But the other day I braved it and went into my local city to see what the shops were like. I wanted to write this post to reassure people and let you know what it genuinely is like in the shops. So if you are thinking of venturing in the shops, whether thats because you urgently need something, or because you fancy something to do here’s what you need to know.
Without any surprise, the high street won’t look like what it looked like before lockdown. And I think thats what shocked me the most. There are new measures in place, social distancing rules apply and not all shops are actually open yet/lots have shut down. Treat this post as an insight into what it might feel like if you want to go for a little shopping spree. However if you don’t feel comfortable venturing out yet, then take your time and don’t feel like you have to do anything.
I can’t vouch for what everyones local high street or shopping centre will look like however the general rules apply over most. Most shopping centres will have a one way system going around so that the flow of shoppers will all travel in the same direction. There will be hand sanitiser stations at all entrances to the shopping centre, and by the car park paying machines. Any seated cafe areas were taken away and not all stores were open. There was probably about 60% of the stores open with those like Quiz, and Cath Kidston to name a few which have unfortunately now closed.
I also know from looking on social media, and from the first day stores opened it makes it seem like the stores and shopping malls will be packed. That there will be queues that are hours long. But I can say that for me, this was not the case. It wasn’t quiet however it wasn’t ‘as normal’ and the only queue we had to stand in was for Primark which was literally a minute wait if that.
When you go to enter a shop there will be a one way system in and out. So you can enter say on the right hand side and leave on the left hand side. Like I said before any seating areas have been removed, so you can’t just hang around any more. For example, before COVID, when I was at uni, my friends and I would sit in the Starbucks seating area in the middle of the shopping mall for lunch. You can’t now do that, or wait outside of shops as it blocks the way for people to walk through the one way system.
Some store opening times have changed too, so make sure to double check before you go in as to what times the shops are staying open until. Some places are doing staggered opening times so be aware of that. There are lots of floor markings as well to keep people moving in the correct flow.
Shops have gone all out to ensure that customers can feel as safe as possible on their post-lockdown shopping trips. Like mentioned above there is a one way in and one way out system and there is one member of staff on the doors at a time. They are there to record how many are in the shop at one time, as each shop as a restriction depending on the space. They also are there to make you feel comfortable and explain their new systems.
Most shops have hand sanitiser on the door so that you can use, some shops are enforcing it a must to use it before entering like Primark and Next, and some are placing it there as an option. No shops in my shopping centre were enforcing face masks, but of course that is optional, and some shops have been requiring staff to wear shields or masks.
They changing rooms in stores will not be open. Well at least in my shopping centre they weren’t. I have seen some stores might be doing this and then quarantining the items afterwards, however I think the general consensus is that they aren’t open. To be honest, this didn’t affect me that much because I much prefer taking items home to try on anyway!
A lot of shops have increased there contactless spending amounts to £45. In my opinion this still is quite low especially as a pair of jeans in Topshop could cost more than that. However this is totally based on security and legalities for that store. H&M had separate queue for those paying with cash and those paying with card, but some stores are only excepting cards so make sure you have one with you.
There are also signs on the floor to remind you of social distancing, and new queuing systems for the tills with spots marked out on them allowing you to stay 2m away from each other in the queue.
I feel a little bit mixed about it! I found it some what nice because it brung back a bit of normality for me. Before COVID I would be in the shopping centre nearly everyday as my university is right next door – not good for the bank account haha! And being able to do something that felt partly normal was quite nice. However I totally get why not everyone would feel comfortable. Despite the efforts, not everyone will follow the one way system, and sometimes if you want to walk past someone, socially distancing doesn’t happen.
But I think its about being aware and staying safe. Use the hand sanitiser, wear a mask if it makes you feel more comfortable, chose times that might be quieter e.g before closing or just as the shops open. make sure to wash your hands frequently and use be personally aware of the space around you. But if you think its too much of a risk then you don’t go in.
I hope this has given you a bit more of an insight into what your post-lockdown shopping trip might look like. I think at some point, things will have to return to ‘normal’. For me, I hadn’t really been out anywhere until a few weeks ago. And its been nice to get out somewhere, whilst being safe. How do you feel about going to the shops?
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