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Shops reopen in Lowestoft as queues form quickly

PUBLISHED: 13:56 15 June 2020 | UPDATED: 14:57 15 June 2020

Queues outside Sports Direct in Lowestoft as stores reopen their doors. PHOTO: Reece Hanson

Queues outside Sports Direct in Lowestoft as stores reopen their doors. PHOTO: Reece Hanson

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Within minutes of shops re-opening their doors, eager shoppers lined the streets of Lowestoft, many for the first time in weeks.

London Road North, in Lowestoft, as shops reopen their doors. PHOTO: Reece HansonLondon Road North, in Lowestoft, as shops reopen their doors. PHOTO: Reece Hanson

While a number of shops held off opening until 10am, the town’s Sports Direct store, on London Road North, saw the queue stretch around the corner onto Gordon Road.

Shopping in the town is a vastly different experience to the time before the coronavirus lockdown, with members of staff positioned outside a number of stores, some with face visors, others wearing protective gloves, and a strict policy in place to limit the number of customers allowed inside.

Visiting the town for the first time since lockdown began, shopper Mark Fletcher said: “I’m so pleased to see a lot of the shops open again.

“You can buy anything online now but I like to be able to see what I’m buying first, especially with things like books.

London Road North, in Lowestoft, as shops reopen their doors. PHOTO: Reece HansonLondon Road North, in Lowestoft, as shops reopen their doors. PHOTO: Reece Hanson

“Shops have hand sanitiser and everything so if people are careful and follow all the rules, there is no reason things can’t get back to normal.”

From 10am, a number of stores also saw similar queues outside, stretching up and down London Road North as customers distanced themselves to get into New Look, Timpsons and Clarks among others.

The reopening has also offered one last outing for two stores set to leave the town centre in the near future, with Burtons and Bonmarche welcoming customers again.

A worker at Sunrise Frames, on London Road North, said: “It was pretty straightforward for us to reopen, we cleaned up and only one person is allowed in at once.

Adrian Chapman, of Magpie Moments on London Road South, Lowestoft PHOTO: Reece HansonAdrian Chapman, of Magpie Moments on London Road South, Lowestoft PHOTO: Reece Hanson

“It is good we can reopen now, and nice to see others open too. Things seem to be getting back to normal now.

“No one knows how long these measures will last. How long is a piece of string?

“It has been tough for everyone, but we just had to find things to do to fill the time.”

Louise White, owner of Way Up High, a not-for-profit organisation selling ‘pre-loved’ children’s clothes, was among the businesses opening their doors on London Road South.

Magpie Moments, on London Road South, Lowestoft. PHOTO: Reece HansonMagpie Moments, on London Road South, Lowestoft. PHOTO: Reece Hanson

She said: “I have been in for a week cleaning everything. We had been doing online work but I have paused that to try and get back on top of things in the store.

“When we closed was when we should have been transitioning between winter and summer clothes, so they are all in the back now waiting. A lot of places have got sales on but I didn’t want to have too many people in the shop so we’re holding off on that for now.

“The online work have meant we have been able to help people access clothing. For the first few months that was really good and helped the community.

“The more challenging thing for me has been home schooling. My eldest has now gone back and the school has been great, otherwise it would have been difficult to start up again.

Sunrise Frames, in Lowestoft. PHOTO: Reece HansonSunrise Frames, in Lowestoft. PHOTO: Reece Hanson

“We have only been open since November so we were still finding our feet when this happened.”

A large number of the town’s independent businesses can be found on the Kirkley street, with Adrian Chapman, co-owner of Magpie Moments, saying the street is better suited for smaller businesses than the town centre.

He said: “The top end of town is finished. The shops are too big and people aren’t taking them over, like the old Palmers, Beales and Tesco stores. The shops in Kirkley are smaller and a lot of independent businesses are trying.

“We are quite a small shop and this part of town is usually a bit quieter anyway.

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“We have hand sanitiser, tape to mark around the store and signage going up.

“This could be the final test. People are in two camps, either they want to come shopping, or they are still mindful about coronavirus.

“It could make or break a lot of shops. We will see over the next three months or so, but the weather should attract more people out.

“Some of our stock you can buy online, but not too easily, like grandfather clocks. People like to come and see them. You can look at a picture, but you want to see if it is tactile or has quality.”

This week, we have launched our Love Local campaign to encourage shoppers to back their independent businesses as they attempt to survive the enforced closures of the last couple of months.

Shopper Ellie Georgeson said: “The independent businesses are great and usually offer something different and unique, so it would be a shame to lose them.”


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