Shoppers across the UK are expected to flock to the high street in large numbers when lockdown restrictions are lifted on 12 April. This is according to analysts who predict a 48% increase in high street sales when non-essential stores reopen.
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Non-essential stores reopening
Non-essential stores have been closed since January when England went into its third lockdown.
However, the prime minister recently confirmed that step 2 of his lockdown exit roadmap will go ahead as planned, meaning that these shops will officially reopen on 12 April.
Shops we can expect to reopen
The non-essential stores and businesses that can reopen include:
- Clothing and fashion stores and tailors
- Homeware stores
- Carpet stores
- Electronic goods and mobile phone shops
- Charity shops
- Antique stores
- Photography stores
- Auction houses
- Car and vehicle showrooms
- Betting shops
Personal care facilities and close-contact services such as hair, beauty and nail salons, as well as indoor sports and leisure facilities like gyms, sports courts, and dance and fitness studios are also reopening on the same date.
Last week, a couple of big names in retail and fashion called on the government to introduce a Shop Out to Help Out scheme to assist these stores as they reopen.
Under the scheme, shoppers would get a 50% discount on items, up to £10, for a month. This discount would be covered by the government. However, the government has yet to comment on this proposal.
Why high street sales could surge by almost 50%
As highlighted by the BBC, research by Springboard and PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) suggests that there is a pent up demand among shoppers who have missed shopping in bricks-and-mortar shops.
This is indicated by the fact that the percentage of footfall in shopping centres has been growing progressively over the last couple of weeks.
During the four-day bank holiday weekend, footfall in major cities was three times higher than it was in March last year, around the time the first lockdown was implemented.
According to Springboard, the fact that consumers are visiting stores in person rather than online indicates a pent-up demand to shop on the high street.
The ultimate result could be a 48% increase in high street sales. This is fantastic news for the high street, which has been hit particularly hard by the pandemic.
Consumer confidence is high
According to PWC, consumer confidence is also quite high, which may drive up high street sales. The firm says that forced savings during lockdown have resulted in record levels of optimism.
People have generally missed some of their favourite activities, including shopping, eating out and going on holiday.
This presents a fantastic opportunity for retailers and service providers to capitalise on customers’ willingness to spend.
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The rules when non-essential stores reopen
To help aid safe shopping, there will be longer opening hours for non-essential shops. The shops will be allowed to open until 10pm from Monday to Sunday. This will give shoppers more flexibility and ease any transport pressures they might face.
However, when stores reopen, customers and staff will still be required to follow the government’s ‘Covid-secure’ measures. These include wearing a face covering and maintaining social distancing. Changing rooms will be available, but safety guidelines will be in place. Current contact rules, including the rule of six, will stay in place.
So, when you go to shops that are reopening on 12 April, you should go alone or just with members of your household or support bubble.
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