Get Breaking Alerts on Stocks Before The Mainstream Media

Stay informed of the biggest news on stocks so you can react before 90% of retail investors.
Email address
We guarantee you to keep your privacy
Connect with us
Financial Press


Inside England’s retail revival: Here’s how shops looked the day after lockdown eased

English high streets were quiet on Tuesday after an initial surge as nonessential retailers reopened a day earlier

Mannequins at the luxury department store Selfridges demonstrate for shoppers how to practice social distancing.

Getty Images

Manchester, the usually bustling northern city that’s home to two of the world’s largest soccer teams and such influential bands as Oasis, the Smiths and New Order, felt like a ghost town on Tuesday despite England’s taking its biggest step yet out of lockdown a day earlier.

In the luxury department store Selfridges, there looked to be more salesclerks than shoppers, while at Urban Outfitters

there were perhaps more mannequins than Mancunians.

But for those who hit the shops, it brought a welcome taste of freedom. Retired teacher Alison Thompson said it felt like “being released from prison,” and that she previously felt like “cheering” when McDonald’s

drive-throughs reopened in May.

Hopes of a robust economic recovery for the U.K. are pinned on consumers feeling confident enough to return to shops, but figures charting footfall — or how many people enter a shopping area — showed most shoppers stayed at home.

Read:Social-distancing ‘champions,’ one-way store traffic, long lines — the new normal for England’s shoppers

Tuesday’s footfall was 35.4% higher than a week earlier on U.K. high streets, but still down 55.3% from the same day a year earlier, according to data firm Springboard.

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced in May that nonessential retailers would be allowed to reopen on June 15 after almost three months of closure, visiting a mall in east London on Sunday to urge Brits to shop.

“I think people should shop, and shop with confidence, but they should, of course, observe the rules on social distancing,” he told reporters.

Meanwhile, in the U.S., figures released on Tuesday showed retail sales jumping 17.7% in May, rebounding from a 14.7% fall in April and fueling hopes of a quick recovery as states across the country lift lockdowns.

Get Breaking Stock Alerts

Stay informed of the biggest news on stocks so you can react before 90% of retail investors.
Email address
We are Spam free & Secure 🙂

Read:The stunning retail-sales surge in May is great news, but don’t expect a repeat

English stores looked markedly different: Shop floors were decked in social-distancing markings, fitting rooms were cordoned off, some mandated hand sanitizer on entry, and cashiers were shielded behind clear plastic screens.

Around 100 people waited in the rain for Selfridges to open, but when it did the queue quickly disappeared. The only sound inside was from the custom playlist, occasionally interrupted with an alert urging shoppers to maintain social distancing.

Discount retailer Primark, owned by Associated British Foods
saw a long line throughout the day, but its three stores were surprisingly quiet. It is thought to be busier than rivals as its clothes aren’t sold online, but a cap on in-store shoppers had inflated the queue, and there was little risk of bumping into fellow customers inside.

In the almost deserted Lowry designer outlet mall outside Manchester city center, an assistant in the Clarks shoe shop was happy to be back in work. She said it was surprisingly quiet and she had mostly waited on children whose feet had grown during lockdown. But with gloves, a mask and a visor during fittings, the children couldn’t tell if they were at a shoe shop or the dentist, she added.

Retired teacher Alison Thompson said being able to shop again is “exhilarating … almost like being released from prison.”


Thompson said she doesn’t shop online as she likes to see clothes in person. The first stop on her trip was the U.K.’s biggest clothing retailer, Marks & Spencer
where she bought several new outfits for her return to tutoring.

“For me it’s a sheer release, being able to walk around a shop that isn’t a supermarket, and to be able to treat myself a bit. It’s the second day in a row that I’ve been shopping — I’ll keep having a look round,” she said.

The next big step out of coronavirus lockdown in England could see the hospitality industry, including pubs, restaurants and barbershops, reopen on July 4.

A spokesperson for Selfridges said: “We have been pleasantly surprised by the response since we reopened our doors, and it is great to see some of our regular customers. We are, of course, conscious this is early days, but so far the reopening has exceeded our expectations.”

A Clarks spokesperson said: “We are taking the health and safety of employees and customers extremely seriously and are fully committed to safeguarding their well-being when our stores reopen.”

The Lowry and Urban Outfitters were asked to comment, and Primark declined to comment.

Written By

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Related Articles


This report has been corrected with updated data for a prior share-price decline. Verizon Communications Inc. recently offered a better-than-expected earnings outlook for the...


An earlier version of this report misstated AT&T’s postpaid net additions. It has been corrected. A leaner AT&T Inc. topped revenue expectations Wednesday as...


Teradyne Inc.’s first-quarter financial guidance fell short of Wall Street projections, sending shares down nearly 20% in after-hours trading to $115.03. The company projected...


Lam Research Corp. shares plunged in late trading Wednesday after the chip-equipment supplier reported worse-than-expected fiscal second-quarter revenue and third-quarter guidance, which the chief...

Get Breaking Stock Alerts

Stay informed of the biggest news on stocks so you can react before 90% of retail investors.
Email address
We are Spam free & Secure :)

Get Breaking Stock Alerts

Email address

Get Breaking Stock Alerts

Stay informed of the biggest news on stocks so you can react before 90% of retail investors.
Email address