Monday, 15 June 2020 15:53

Lockdown easing a much welcome boost for town centre shops

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Louise Rolfe checking safety tapes at The Present Louise Rolfe checking safety tapes at The Present
Customers were welcomed back in Barnet High Street and the Spires shopping centre on the first day of the easing of lockdown restrictions on shopping. Most of the leading chains were open for business.

An extra special effort had been made by the town’s entrepreneurial band of independent traders who said they were highly encouraged by the initial response.
Shoe shop proprietor Peter Wander sold five pairs of shoes in the first two hours of trading.

Equally pleased a few doors along the High Street was Louise Rolfe at her gift shop, The Present.
“It is a real relief to have the front door open again and to see people coming into the shop cheerful and smiling,” said Ms Rolfe as she checked her social distancing floor tapes and hand sanitizer.
“My customers have been so supportive during lockdown. I’m going to continue making deliveries to people who have to shield themselves at home but now I can offer personal service once again inside the shop.”

Peter Wander said he had been so encouraged to see how observant customers were of the precautions on social distancing and the use hand sanitizers.
“It is so important for High Barnet’s independent traders to see customers back in the High Street.”
Inside the Spires most of the leading retailers were open, including clothing specialists H&M, JD Sports, Waterstones, WH Smith, Entertainment Exchange, Works discount bookstore and Baggage World.
Among those not to open on the first day were Card Factory, Report and Roman but three premises had closures notices on the door: Carphone Warehouse, Clinton Cards and Regis Salons.

By mid-morning there were queues outside banks, building societies and the Post Office but again, as with the Spires, outlets for several leading retail chains, including Rymans and Robert Dyas, remained closed.
Charity shops all along the High Street showed no sign of re-opening and the charity sector has warned that many might remain shut for some weeks because so many of their volunteers are elderly and are shielding and because their largely second hand stock will have to be checked and cleaned ready for sale.

A notice in the British Heart Foundation’s window explained the dilemma: the shop was unable to open in order to support volunteers who “may be at higher risk due to underlying health conditions or who have caring responsibilities”.
Collections of donated items had been suspended – a message repeated along the High Street at North London Hospice, Age UK, Cancer Research UK and PDSA. Oxfam, which had closed its shop with “a heavy heart”, said donated stock could be left at the nearest Oxfam donation bank.

The news was far more encouraging at a newly opened independent shop, Kronos and Rhea, selling pulses, nuts, grains, pasta, flours and sugars.
Proprietor Amanda Theodorou said she was benefiting from the increased footfall along the High Street and was occasionally having to ask customers to wait for a moment before entering.
Her business – billed as High Barnet’s first zero waste shop – has self-service dispensers and encourages customers to bring their own packaging or use paper bags.

Another business hoping to take advantage of the increased footfall is Dory’s café which operates a take-away service.
Proprietors Guiliano and Angela are hoping that once cafes, restaurants and public houses get the go ahead to re-open, Dory’s might be able to benefit from government promises to make it easier for food and drink to be served and consumed outside.
Dory’s would like to put tables alongside the café in Bruce Road – a step which has currently proved too costly and restrictive under the conditions imposed by Barnet Council.

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