Have you returned to the high street since lockdown restrictions eased? Do you enjoy browsing in shops for new clothes, shoes and accessories, or do you simply order everything online these days?
I used to enjoy shopping days as a social event, but that would include wandering around the shops with friends, catching up on gossip, and stopping for coffee and lunch breaks in cafes. Since the pandemic began, I have witnessed a further change in our high streets. More shops have collapsed and closed down. Some of our longest-serving brands have sold their physical shops and moved to online trading only. I was sad to hear about the demise of Debenhams and the loss of Bratt’s department store in Northwich, Cheshire, one of my local shopping centres. These are the stores I would visit for a special occasion outfit or a birthday gift. Now I must search online, plan ahead for delivery times and make sure I’m home to receive the deliveries. I’m not that organised, it’s a struggle!
Some shops are still battling to retain a high street presence. One of our family favourites is Clarks Shoes. I need to have my daughter’s feet measured again as she hasn’t been checked in almost two years and she did a lot of growing during the lockdowns. My elder daughter is now in adult sizes. We used to walk into our local Clarks shop, request feet measuring, and be served efficiently. I believe we now have to book in advance, which is tricky for us since we tend to be spontaneous with shopping trips.
Then there is the challenge with clothes shopping. I recently visited some of my favourite stores when they reopened and was frustrated to find that I cannot try on clothes in the changing rooms. They are currently closed due to the pandemic. That being the case, I might as well order my clothes online, try them on at home, and send back anything that doesn’t fit. It saves me the hassle of driving out to a shop when I can only purchase items that might not fit anyway.
And what of my beloved charity shops? There are now only two charity shops on my local high street. One has not yet reopened following the start of the pandemic. It is a hospice shop and I think they are struggling to find staff that can work safely, I’m not sure. I really want them to reopen! The other charity shop is only allowing three customers inside at one time. I tried to pop in while my children were at dance class recently and was asked to wait outside. I had to go and collect my children before I could visit the shop.
How is your local high street looking after lockdown? Have your favourite shops reopened and are you returning to them?
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