Scotland and Wales reopen for business

The First Minister has announced in the Scottish Parliament that all shops, large and small – except those in shopping centres/malls which do not have street access – will be permitted to re-open from 29 June. This means many shops will have been shuttered for 14 weeks since the commencement of lock down on 23 March.

David Lonsdale, director of the Scottish Retail Consortium, said: “Retailers have been eagerly awaiting a firm date for the re-opening of shops that they can work towards. The First Minister’s announcement is a significant milestone, providing much needed clarity on the path ahead. It is welcome that Government has listened to our representations and that larger shops will be able to re-open sooner than anticipated. We look forward in due course to learning of the indicative date for the re-opening of non-essential outlets in shopping centres and malls.

“Safety is the fundamental concern for all retailers and they have been working hard to implement the necessary social distancing and hygiene measures to operate safely over the past weeks. This a welcome vote of confidence in that effort and preparation. Now that we know which shops can open and when, retailers can begin communicating their plans with their work forces and customers.

“The First Minister’s call for shoppers to be considerate and respectful of shop staff is helpful. Customers will see differences to their usual shopping routine and what is expected of them too. Shoppers should be prepared for different store layouts, one-way aisles, plexiglass screens and queuing, similar to those measures seen in pharmacies and other essential retailers.

“The industry stands ready to play its part in getting the Scottish economy moving again. However it is crucial that there is a clear plan so shoppers can travel to and through our town and city centres, and also a short term economic stimulus package to encourage customers to start shopping again.”

“Our members have invested significantly over a very short period in social distancing and other health and hygiene measures in order to protect staff and customers, and will continue to ensure colleagues in stores have the necessary protection as advised by Government. We have previously written to Ministers to say that if there are to be changes to the necessary protection required, then we would ask Government to engage with us at the earliest opportunity so we can discuss the practicalities and understand the requirements and time frame for implementation. This would allow sufficient time to place orders and acquire stock.”

This follows the news from the Welsh Government that retailers will be able to begin reopening from 22 June.

Sara Jones, head of the Welsh Retail Consortium, said: “Welsh shops now have the date they’ve been waiting for, today’s welcome announcement means they will be able to open their doors from next Monday.  The First Minister told retailers to prepare at his last review and that’s they’ve done, investing heavily to keep both our customers and our colleagues safe. Safety will always be of fundamental concern for our members and we’ve been learning from essential retailers who have continued to operate during the pandemic, drawing on the sector guidance that we’ve developed in partnership with Usdaw and the Welsh Government.

“Undoubtedly there will be challenges ahead, and we remain concerned about ongoing cost pressures and subdued demand, but we will do all we can to encourage people to shop safely in our stores once more. It is welcome that Government has listened to our representations and the Welsh retail industry stands ready to play its part in getting the economy moving again.”

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