After 83 days of coronavirus lockdown, non-essential stores in England reopen their doors on Monday, hoping to get the tills ringing again and start a long road to recovery. The stores have been closed since March 23 when Prime Minister Boris Johnson imposed a lockdown to stem the spread of coronavirus. While outdoor markets and car showrooms reopened on June 1, today will be the big return to business for retailers. Many people have been seen queuing outside Primark stores since the early hours across England.
The new rule only applies to England, with stores in Scotland and Wales waiting for guidance from their devolved administrations on when they can resume trading. Non-essential stores in Northern Ireland reopened on Friday.
Getting shoppers spending again is key to Britain’s recovery after official data on Friday showed the economy shrank by a quarter over March and April.
The British Retail Consortium reckons the lockdown has cost non-food stores 1.8 billion pounds ($2.3 billion) a week in lost revenues.
Stores will look very different from before the lockdown as they will have to observe hygiene and social distancing regulations. Shoppers face queues outside, restricted numbers inside and limitations on trying products.
READ MORE: FTSE 100 LIVE: Global stocks plunge on virus spike while UK shops open
Some chains are reopening all their English stores, while others are taking a phased approach.
Fashion chain Primark, which with no online offer has not taken a penny in Britain during the lockdown, plans to open all its 153 stores in England.
Marks & Spencer, which has traded online and kept its food halls open, will reopen the majority of its clothing and homewares selling space.
Rival Next is reopening just 25 stores, while department store chain John Lewis is reopening just two. Electricals retailer Dixons Carphone will open 153 Currys PC World stores.
Many stores are encouraging customers to make purchases by contactless card payments, with limits increased to £45. Arcadia, which owns the likes of Topshop, Miss Selfridge and Dorothy Perkins, has said it will not accept cash.
Live footfall cameras will be in operation at Westfield shopping centres to manage visitor numbers and safe distancing, and the centres will use cashless car parks and have hundreds of new bike racks.
Around 90 percent of stores are expected to reopen at Liverpool One, with social distancing signage and markers in place throughout the complex.
London’s famous Covent Garden will have a one-way system in place when its Market Building reopens, restaurants will be open for takeaway only, and a new public seating area has been created in the piazza.
The city’s Spitalfields Traders Market will reopen initially with 50 stalls, half the number it had pre-lockdown, and will use a one-way system marked out with floor vinyls and stencils.