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Shoppers Flock Back as High Streets Reopen in England and Wales

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Shoppers flocked back to High Street stores earlier this week as England and Wales saw non-essential retailers open their doors for the first time in over three months.

High street footfall doubled within hours, as people started queuing up outside branches of TK Maxx, JD Sports, and Primark. Retailers also extended opening hours to facilitate the increase in customers.

A surge in bookings was also reported by barbers, beauty salons, and pub gardens.

Queues started forming outside Primark’s stores on Oxford Street in London as early as 7am. Paul Marchant, Primark boss, said: "We have been working really hard to get our stores ready to open safely; we are fully stocked with everything our customers have been waiting for.

"We ask our customers to continue supporting us and be mindful of our in-store measures, in particular if queuing outside and in-store."

Retail manager of the Moor shopping area in Sheffield, Amanda Philips, said the scene at the Moor on Monday looked more like "an old fashioned Saturday in 2019".

"The sun is shining which always brings people out. We've been desperate to get outside and get a bit of retail therapy. The kids are still off school, it's half term.”

Vanita Parti, owner of a chain of beauty salons with 21 locations, said that there had been a lot of “pent-up demand”.

"We've had 1,000 clients on our waiting list from February. As soon as the appointments were up, we became fully-booked very quickly for the next few weeks," she said.

"That's a really exciting sign that people are so ready to step out of the house and indulge in a little self-care."

Chief executive of sushi chain Itsu, Julian Metcalf, said he still felt “a bit nervous” but was hoping that demand would rebound as shoppers hit the High Street once again.

"It's scary," Metcalf said. "But there's a lot to be grateful for; the vaccination programme in our country is little short of remarkable, so there's no reason that we can't come back with real strength and positivity."

The University of Salford’s retail expert, Dr Gordon Fletcher, said: "When the shoppers return to the High Street there will invariably be a surge of foot traffic as the built up tensions of lockdown need to be vented.

"The biggest risk for the old and new independent High Street retailers is that any surge will only be temporary as many shoppers quickly return to their increasingly refined ecommerce habits built up over the past 12 months."

Harry Pererra
Harry Pererra

Harry turns on his experience in journalism and programming to write about the latest news in the world of tech and the environemtn. When he isn’t writing for usave he is working towards his Blue Belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and prefers dogs to cats.

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