Public reacts to shops re-opening: 'Nobody cares about social distancing once they're in the store'

Caroline Allen
·Contributor
·4-min read

Shops across England have re-opened today after almost three months of closures due to the coronavirus lockdown.

As people venture back to the shops after the break, photos have emerged on social media of a chaotic looking Oxford Street, London, where social distancing rules appear to have gone out of the window.

But, what’s shopping really been like? Is this snapshot of one of the UK’s busiest shopping streets a real look at what the realities of shopping has been like?

As the public head to the high streets for the first time since 23 March, they offer an insight into what we can expect with the new restrictions.

Grace Austin, who went back to work in a department store for the first time today said after the initial rush this morning, “everything has gone quiet”.

“There wasn’t queues outside, but the menswear section was particularly busy. A lot of shops are having sales at the moment to encourage people back into stores and our menswear sale was particularly good,” Austin explained.

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Shops across England re-open after lockdown. (Getty Images)
Shops across England re-open after lockdown. (Getty Images)

Despite many people reporting a lack of social distancing in some of the busier cities in England, generally, high streets seem to have a calmer approach to the re-opening.

“Everyone is staying 2 metres apart and we’ve got a one way flow around the store,” she continues, although admits there seems to be a mixture of people who are and are not wearing face masks.

One thing the beauty concession manager did notice, though, is that people were getting annoyed at not being able to try and touch the products.

“Usually, people can try the testers and spray the perfume but that’s obviously not possible at the moment. People have been getting frustrated that they can’t shop as they usually would pre-coronavirus.”

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Much like the supermarkets during the lockdown, the “morning rush” seems to be a theme wherever you chose to shop today.

“I wanted to go to Primark today, but I was dreading it because of the scenes I’d seen in Oxford Street,” Jorgie Aldrin explained.

“I got there at around 11.30am and I was pleasantly surprised. There were three people queuing on front of me. They did say the queues were much, much longer earlier in the morning, though, so my tip for people looking to go shopping this week would be to avoid the morning rush.”

“Nobody cares about social distancing once they’re in the store, though,” Aldrin admits.

“It was the same in every shop I went into. Apart from at the tills, there is no attempt for the public to keep socially distancing.”

Some people took to Twitter to defend those in queues, explaining that many of the people in the queues were there to buy clothes for their children who have grown out of everything during the three months of lockdown.

This was the case for Georgia Johnson who needed to go to the shops after giving birth to buy some summer clothes that fitted her.

“I was really impressed with the shops and I thought Primark was one of the best organised shops in town,” she said, talking about her home city of Chelmsford, Essex.

“I waited ten minutes to get into the shops and that was at 8.30am. There were longer queues in some of the bigger shops but that’s more to do with the restrictions rather than the amount of people in there.”

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The general consensus? Head to a quieter high-street over the bigger, well-known shopping areas for a more relaxing experience.

If you don’t have a choice but to head to the likes of Oxford Street, arriving early doesn’t seem to be advised, with people reporting on social media that the queues calmed as the day went on.

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