Wigan shopping hub ready for return of non-essential retail
There is a sense of eagerness to get back to work as shops at the Grand Arcade welcome customers in once more.
The town centre retail hub has had just six of its tenants offering essential services operating during the long weeks of the latest national lockdown.
As restrictions on non-essential retail lifted, though, all of those high street names which could be open were welcoming customers back through the doors.
Despite that, when the Wigan Post visited as shelves were being restocked and stores cleaned up ready for the arrival of the public there was an obvious sense that staff were pleased to be back in work.
Andrew Arkwright, store manager at H&M, said: “Everyone’s excited to get back. Everyone’s got a bit fed up of being sat at home doing nothing.
“Hopefully we will be busy and people will be out buying their clothes for summer or for holidays if that can happen.
“We’ve been looking forward to it and we’re just going to try to have lots of fun this week.”
Vicky Walker, assistant manager at Hurley, said: “This has been a long time coming. People were getting a bit bored in lockdown. It feels like we’re getting back to reality a bit.
“I think there’s a little bit of apprehension because we don’t know how busy or quiet we’re going to be, but generally it’s exciting.
“We’re hoping that with beer gardens being open and people being vaccinated people will be looking at beach or going-out wear and going on holiday.
“Most of us have been furloughed so we’re glad to be getting back to it.”
Grand Arcade centre manager John Sanson was keen to remind shoppers that while non-essential retail is now open restrictions to slow the spread of Covid-19 are still very much in force.
The Costa Coffee upstairs, for example, is still limited to takeaway services as hospitality venues are all permitted to do outdoor table service only.
Mr Sanson said he and his team were looking forward to welcoming the public back but believes that while there may be a rush to the shops for the novelty factor Covid-19 will have wrought permanent changes to the retail sector.
He said: “I worry people think that it’s all over now. They still have to be socially-distanced, there are still limits on numbers and they still have to wear face masks.
“It’s nice to get people back in here and get a bit more of a buzz. It’s getting a bit more back to normal.
“The fashion retailers have got a real mix of seasons to get out there, some of the stock has been here since the first lockdown.
“We are probably never going to get back to where we were in 2019. A lot of people are still worried about coming out and a lot have found alternative shopping methods.
“I hope we do get back to where we were in our last full trading year, but I don’t think it’s going to happen. That’s a national thing, it’s not just Wigan.”
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