Traders hope shoppers return for Christmas after lockdown
Many businesses are getting ready to welcome back customers after four weeks of closure. When England’s new tier system comes into force on Wednesday, shops, gyms and personal care services, like hairdressers, can reopen, if they are Covid-secure.
But pubs and bars in tier three will be unable to open and only if they serve a “substantial meal” under tier two.
Sarah Wright, Josh Rogers and Lauren Dalglish had arranged the opening of their new store, Under One Roof, in Oswestry, Shropshire for 4 November.
Then England’s second lockdown was announced from 5 November.
They opened for one day, closed the next and spent lockdown photographing products so they could offer an online click and collect service.
But, Sarah Wright said, this had only offered steady sales during the closure.
“Lots of people messaged to say weren’t going to do click and collect, they were waiting for the shop to reopen and we will be inviting people in from 09:30,” she said.
“Everyone’s work is so individual it is really hard to get across on the internet.”
Tuesday was spent rearranging the shop layout and adding items to shelves ready for people to come in and Ms Wright said they were feeling “really optimistic”.
They are thinking of opening for seven days a week in the run-up to Christmas.
Gift shop Wyle Blue World, in Shrewsbury, normally thrives in November but this year, Belinda Griffiths is worried shoppers have gone online.
But, she said, she has been boosted by promises from her customers that they will continue to support small, independent businesses.
“I am anxious, having been closed for a month, November is the busiest month of the entire year,” she said.
“We are all a bit apprehensive that while customers have been in lockdown for the last month, have they been buying on Amazon? Have they spent their money?
“I am excited but anxious, I am just hoping that people will come out and support us…so mixed feelings…really hoping we are going to be busy.”
But she said the lockdown has brought the independent businesses together as a community, and all are “excited” about reopening.
For Hillers Gifts and Interiors November has been “dire”. Sally Haines is hoping a review of tiers will allow their restaurant to reopen.
The gift shop is one of several businesses run by the family in Alcester, Warwickshire, and while the farm shop has remained open during lockdown, their restaurant will stay shut as the county is in tier three.
“We have bookings for Wednesday with some people booking so they can have the store to themselves,” she said.
“But we are really holding out for the 16th, for the welfare of our staff, the community, to really get some buzz back in there,” she said.
The gift store generates about 15% of their annual turnover and the firm has bought in clothes, games, trivia, fragrances and other items ahead of the reopening.
The shops employ 95 people, with seven currently on furlough, as staff have been used in other roles during the lockdown.
Hagley, in Worcestershire, is in tier two. But traders are concerned about the closeness of its border to Dudley and Staffordshire, both in tier three and where a lot of custom comes from.
Hagley Cafe owner Amanda Mortimer fears takings will not be as high as people in tier three have been advised not to travel.
She says “half” of her customer base comes from across the borders.
“I am just hoping that I don’t have to police it because that puts me in a very difficult situation,” she said.