British high streets and retailers reopen for business

High street retailers, independent shops and national department stores have reopened their doors following three-months of the enforced COVID-19 lockdown.

They are allowed to open provided they follow the COVID-19 secure guidelines set out by the government in May.

Stores including book shops, electronics retailers, tailors, auction houses, photography studios, indoor markets, and shops selling clothes, shoes and toys, are now open for business.

Business Secretary Alok Sharma said: “Shops, department stores and shopping centres that have been closed since March will be able to reopen from today, provided they put in place the necessary steps to keep their workers and customers safe. This is the latest step in the careful restarting of the economy and will enable high streets up and down the country to spring back to life.

“I would like to thank workers at supermarkets, pharmacies, post offices and other essential retailers who have introduced social distancing to keep the public and their staff safe. Now is the time to apply these principles to even more shops to allow workers safely back into stores and welcome back shoppers, as we look to get the economy going again.”

The British Retail Consortium (BRC), the trade body representing the sector, warned that the easing of lockdown rules was unlikely to provide any immediate boost for the retail industry.

Helen Dickinson, BRC CEO, said: “Retailers have been under immense pressure for the past three months but the reopening of non-essential shops is unlikely to deliver immediate relief. A mix of low consumer confidence and limits on the number of people able to enter stores mean that many shops will continue to suffer lower footfall – and lower sales – for some time to come.”

Industry reaction

Matthew Fell, Chief UK Policy Director, said: “Thousands of high street shops, department stores and shopping centres across England are set to reopen today (Mon) now they are COVID-19 secure and have shown how customers will be kept safe. Businesses have strained every sinew to make sure they are ready, safe and able to open their doors. The high street sits at the heart of every community and enabling these businesses to open will be a critical step on the road to rebuilding our economy, supporting millions of jobs across the UK.”