The manager of the Harpur Centre shopping centre has praised Bedfordians for respectfully observing new social distancing rules as shops reopened.
The government relaxed lockdown guidelines, allowing non-essential retailers to re-open today (15 June).
Retailers including Primark, Specsavers, Boots, Price Check and Pandora were open for business in the Harpur Centre, attracting high volumes of customers into the town centre for the first time since early April.
“I’m so proud of our town,” said the Centre manager, Sam Laycock.
“We’ve been working really hard behind the scenes to make sure safely procedures are in place and it was wonderful to be able to welcome customers back into the centre today.
“Customers were more than happy to queue and observe social distancing and were very positive about the measures in place.
“We’ve got one-way systems throughout the mall and are limiting capacity to comply with social distancing. Everyone was very understanding, so patient and more than happy to wait their turn.”
Not everyone was ready to head into the big chain stores, with some preferring to stick to small, independent shops.
Nick Walker, co-owner of Boutique Planet in the Old Arcade said, “Footfall has been great so far and people are excited to be out.
“Some customers have said they are not ready to go into big shops yet, but happy to come to us little indies.”
“We had a fantastic day’s trading on Saturday,” said Beerfly’s Tim Edwards. “People are very respectful and reasonable and happy to wait to be invited into the shop.”
Emma Foley, of Anorak in the Old Arcade, said, “People are being really supportive. Our customers have been so respectful of the new guidelines and are pleased to see shops open again.
“A few customers have said they’d rather come into small shops to avoid the crowds.”
According to Sam, popular purchases have been baby clothes and work attire – with many people realising their pre-lockdown clothes don’t currently fit.