Big queue of shoppers in Harrogate town centre plus latest news on who's reopening
A long queue of shoppers snaked round Victoria Shopping Centre this morning as Harrogate shops started to reopen - though some may not return until midweek as lockdown eases.
Staff at Primark on Cambridge Street coped well with queues as the chain reopened its doors for the first time in nearly three months but the queue for Sports Direct built up for over an hour from its location on the side entrance of Victoria Shopping Centre which has now reopened with full social distancing rules in place.
Both Clarks and Lakeland reopened but many of the smaller clothes shops in the James Street area, especially womens wear, have remained closed so far.
Crowd sizes so far appear good for a Monday but Harrogate's retail sector will be keen for higher footfall if the high street is to truly bounce back after Covid-19.
Nationally, there were reports that shopping footfall was up by as much as 50%.
Harrogate Business Improvement District's interim manager Simon Kent, who was checking the situation in the town centre, said he expected more shops to reopen on Wednesday.
Next store, for one, has announced it will be reopening this Wednesday at 9.30am.
The new retail landscape of masked staff members, hand sanitisers, dispensers outside shop entrances for customers, arrow systems inside stores, protective screens, card machine-sales only and staff in polythene gloves does not seem to be deterring shoppers.
But there was a warning that there is still a long way to go to get back to pre-Covid-19 levels of spending in the high street.
Harrogate Borough Council leader Coun Richard Cooper said: "The next months are critical for the long-term future of our high streets. If people don't shop locally now then they may find in six months time there are far fewer shops on our high street.
"We say we love our indies, we say we hate to see empty shops. If we say those things and we mean them then we need to act accordingly by making the effort to spend locally whether that's physically in our retail centres or online in the many great delivery or collect offers now available from local shops."
Customers the Harrogate Advertiser said they were happy to follow the new safety rules but were also excited to be back in the shops.
Knaresborough man Shane Maloney said outside HMV store in Victoria Shopping Centre he had missed shopping for films and music albums,
Mr Maloney said: "It's nice to be back in HMV. I'm not worried at all by the social distancing.
"Before the lockdown I shopped in HMV regularly. I have streamed a bit in the last few months but the likes of Netflix and Amazon don't always have the films HMV does."
Harrogate man Ken Wean said outside Sports Direct he was delighted the shops has reopened.
Mr Wean said: "I've missed going out and haven't enjoyed being stuck indoors. I wanted a pair of new trainers and it's not the same ordering them on line."
Shops opening today in Harrogate*
Imagined Things book shop
*More are expected to follow
Advice to all shoppers from the British Retail Consortium
The British Retail Consortium (BRC), the trade body for shops, is urging customers to play their part in making shopping safer.
It has issued five steps for shoppers to follow...
1. Queue considerately.
2. Maintain social distancing.
3. Follow instructions inside and outside shops.
4. Follow all necessary hygiene measures.
5. Be respectful to shop staff.
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