It’s been a few weeks now since First Minister of Wales Mark Drakeford announced the reopening of non-essential shops. That was followed by our shopping outlets and centres allowing us back in. We thought this would be a good opportunity to see how it’s all going. With so many places to choose from, City Centre and Out-Of-Town, our randomiser landed on Cwmbran, and that’s where our team headed to see how they, and we are coping with this new way of spending our money.
All shops have had to implement social distancing and safety measures to ensure they are ‘pandemic’ secure. This effectively means anything from a one-way systems to taking products off the shelves to ‘quarantine’ them if people touch them without buying.
So our team went shopping around Cwmbran Centre and can happily report they were more adequately prepared, and handling our return very well. The centre looks very different to how it once did. There were barriers everywhere and direction arrows throughout the centre. These were easy to follow and everyone appeared to be following them and sticking to the rules.
It wasn’t only the markings which people were following, but also the social distancing rules. We noted people actively walking around each other to avoid getting too close. The tannoy messages given to shoppers at regular intervals, served as a gentle reminder to remember this new way of shopping.
It was clear that our stores were very happy to see shoppers return through their doors. Welcome signs were on display, as were instructions detailing just how each shop was handling social distancing measure. It was also nice to see the celebration posters for our NHS and key workers still had pride of place.
We made a particular note of which shops were busy, and where we once queued for a bus, it’s now Coffee, Cash and Clothes.
As we entered this new phase, a Which survey found 58% of us in South Wales are confident about returning to the shops in terms of our health and safety, while 38% are not.
Our favourite DIY Stores are now fully open. B&Q, Homebase and Wickes have all reopened their shops across the UK. Interestingly, they were never actually forced to close as they were on the government’s list of ‘essential’ retailers which were allowed to stay open during lockdown. Some of the big chains however, closed their doors until they could operate safely and ensure social distancing measures.
Garden centres are now open throughout South Wales provided they adhere to strict social distancing measures. This happened just on the nick of time too, with warnings that millions of plants could have to be binned if they weren’t be sold.
While many stores are now open, we have heard stories of other which we will never see again. We should never forget that behind every closure os a persons job, and the effect on them and their family cold be long lasting. others will never reopen at all. Oasis and Warehouse have filed for administration. Monsoon and Debenhams, have only reopened some of their stores, keeping others shut for good. We fear this is only the start.
Online shopping has been a saviour for many of us through lockdown. Many continued to use it as they always have, others discovered it for the first time, and appeared to enjoy the experience. A survey by YouGov found that only 10% hadn’t bought anything online since lockdown began. Many of us went online because of need rather than preference, through preference or necessity. But of course, whopping online is fraught with dangers separate to the pandemic. We’ve heard of people never receiving the items they ordered. Fake reviews being left on various sites, and even delivery companies ‘losing’ tens of thousand of our parcels.
If you want to find out if your favourite shop is now open, Mastercard have put together a really useful interactive guide, which you can use right here. OPENING The site effectively checks whether a transaction has been made in the store in the past seven days to determine whether it’s open.
Our team were impressed with the set up at Cwmbran Centre and it appears that we all have adhered to the guidelines, so far. It’s a long road ahead, of that there is no doubt, but as with the pavements at the centre, with careful marking and adhering to the pointers, it should help keep us all safe.
To read our feature on Outlet Shopping, go here. RETAIL
If you’d like to check the guidelines here in Wales, just go to this page. GOV