Peterborough city centre was buzzing with shoppers on Monday, June 15, which was a stark contrast from the last three months.
Long queues of eager customers were waiting their turn, especially outside Primark and Sport’s Direct.
Independent retailers in Westgate Arcade, some of whom were dreading the re-opening fearing lack of footfall would be a challenge, were pleasantly surprised with customer reactions. Some owners even said ’they had one of the best Mondays’ with customers queuing outside their shops - and they hope this trend continues.
Seven shops welcomed customers again on Monday, while others have planned phased opening within the next few weeks.
The arcade also has four retailer units offering beauty and hair services. It’s unclear as to when they are likely to open, although some have been re-assured by their regular clients that they will be visiting as soon as they can.
Peterborough Matters caught up with a few who re-opened their doors.
Popular sandwich bar, Swivels, said although they had been nervous, they had a pretty good start.
The staff said the last few weeks have been difficult, not being able to work, and for a while it was hoped they could do takeaways instead. Opening once again, with a plastic screen and gloves and masks provided as a safety precaution, a steady stream of customers kept them busy and the team is hopeful things might pick up soon.
Speaking to Peterborough Matters, the manager said: “We have a limited menu with reduced hours of operations. We were nervous of coming back. But everyone who has stopped by have been lovely. It's going okay so far for the first day. Both regular and new customers, so it hasn’t been too bad.”
Express Watch Repairs and Jewellery store is another independent business which opened its doors for the first time in three months.
The business owner was appreciative of the government support to help them during the lockdown, but admits customers will be key for their future.
“I am hopeful it will be alright. But time will tell. We have put in precautions from our end at the shop. However, Queensgate management has given us some guidance to follow including not to let customers queue outside. But I am not going to turn the customers away if I have a queue - I need them.
“We have been here 33 years and have got loyal customers which we are thankful for. We look forward to their support and building on our customer numbers, something that will be crucial for small businesses to survive.”
The fashion accessories store, Style at the Arcade, has been around for nearly 15 years. The owner seemed chuffed with customer response and said she is very excited to be back.
Ivan Frost runs Right Time, a watch repair and sale shop. An excited Ivan told Peterborough Matters that he had "one of the best Mondays" for his business and is positive it's a good start for retail post lockdown.
Watch the video to find out what he has to say about his first day back at work in three months: