Stevenage welcomes back shoppers as lockdown restrictions ease
- Credit: Cardies
Customers have been returning to shops across Stevenage this week, as coronavirus lockdown restrictions ease for the first time in 2021.
It's been all smiles so far from shoppers, as non-essential stores were able to open their doors for the first time in months.
At Cardies in High Street, Charlotte Bradbrook was the first customer to be served as the store fully reopened on Monday, April 12.
Manager Jo Sorrell explained that although Cardies has been able to do a limited click and collect and delivery service throughout lockdown, nothing compares to the excitement of seeing customers in the store.
"To have been shut down since last year, it has been frustrating really. We've been here over 30 years and never experienced anything like this.
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"Monday was brilliant, seeing people back in the shop for the first time in months, seeing them browse and have a chat and also wonderful to see a busy High Street."
The Town Square has also been spruced up to help encourage customers back, with new paving, lighting, street furniture and heritage figures being given a spring clean.
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Punters were delighted to be back out there supporting local, as mum Lauren explained that her two kids were able to finally spend their Christmas money in Smyths Toy Store this morning.
And there are new promotions at stores in town, including The Entertainer in Westgate, who are offering a superhero mask competition and a retail 'quiet hour'.
Shaun Collins, owner of SC Models in Orbital Close, opened his store last October, but was only able to trade for three weeks before lockdown forced him to close his doors.
On Monday, after opening properly for the first time since last year, he said: "With 28 years of experience within this industry, it's lovely to finally be able to open my doors again and start sharing my passion.
"Our first customer on Monday was a newbie to the hobby, getting excited to see all the cars in the showroom. This is exactly the type of customer we love."
Although he continued to trade throughout lockdown, Richard De Falco of A1 Carpeting and Flooring said it was "brilliant" to see customers back in the store.
"We were busy, crazy busy, even with lockdown ending the year about 12 and half per cent up on the previous year despite not having any trade last spring.
"But to see customers in the store again, browsing and buying was brilliant - I'm excited to see what the future holds."