As non-essential retailers prepare to reopen on 15th June, inSwindon BID is reminding visitors to respect the social distancing measures set out by individual shops and businesses.
Many essential retailers and businesses have remained open during the lockdown period and have already put new social distancing into practice.
While people thankfully followed the rules of lockdown, town centre footfall remained low. As more businesses start to reopen and with footfall expected to increase, inSwindon BID spoke to some of its BID members which remained open during lockdown or are making plans to reopen when permitted:
James Gray, Store Manager of Wilko comments on the measures the store has in place and consumer behaviour he has noticed in the last few weeks: “When the Government first announced that only essential retailers would remain open, it was a worrying time for our staff and our customers due to the serious threat of the coronavirus. Our focus was on ensuring the safety of our team and customers and we’ve put several new measures in place to do so.
“We have implemented physical distancing across the entire store, highlighted through posters and floor stickers, and introduced a door marshal to monitor store capacity and to explain the new measures so that customers can abide by social distancing. Further changes such as screen guards, limiting the number of tills in use, baskets and trolleys which are cleaned every 30 minutes, and a revised internal queuing system, are also in place.
“I’m delighted to say that most of our customers have been patient as they understand the seriousness and reasoning behind the new measures. They have followed our guidelines and generally comment that they feel safe to shop with us during this difficult time.
“We have noticed customers are making fewer visits but buying more of what they need when they do come into the store. This shows they have listened to the Government's advice and are only making essential trips when necessary, demonstrating that we can protect one another to keep infection levels down.
“Looking ahead as more businesses open, my concern is with the limited number of customers allowed into shops at any one time there will be a lot of customers queuing outside on the street, close to queues for other businesses. Local companies must support the Council and inSwindon BID who are looking at this to ensure we can all keep our customers safe.”
Love Brownies, a new business to the town centre, was only days away from opening on Faringdon Road when lockdown was implemented in March. By quickly adapting their business model, they were able to open safely as a takeaway until they can reopen fully later this month.
Amy Elmer, Co-Owner of Love Brownies commented: “The business is run with my partner, and living in the same household, we’re able to work in the shop together safely. We were so excited to be opening our business in Swindon town centre, so it was important to us that we tried to open what we could as we had put so much effort into getting the business ready. We’ve put tables up at the doors so we can serve one customer as a time, with separate order/payment and collection doors to minimise contact and length of time we’re exposed individually to customers. Further still, to minimise contact and ensure safety, we’ve purchased a contactless card machine for use at the door and provide hand sanitiser for ourselves and customers.
“Love Brownies has had a fantastic response from our customers already, and we’re really looking forward to welcoming more in-store as lockdown eases. To reopen the store fully, we’ll be adhering to Government guidelines and have completed a COVID-19 risk assessment for the shop. As well as putting in measures to maintain the two-metre distance for customers who eat in and take away, we’ll do everything practical to manage the transmission risk to keep our staff and customers safe.”
Mark Rogers, Interim BID Manager for inSwindon BID: “It has been encouraging to hear the feedback from our businesses in the town centre. They have a huge understanding and appreciation of the measures that have had to take place to keep everyone safe and healthy. It’s testament to those in Swindon, and the rest of the South West, that we have been able to keep infection levels low, although devastating for people who have lost loved ones. We must now all remain alert, and as more of businesses start to reopen, respect each other’s social distancing, follow the guidelines in place and enjoy the summer back in the town centre."