What would Lytham St Annes be without independent retail? The boutiques and gift shops, the butchers and candle-makers, are all the things that give the town its unique character. It’s a big week for anyone in retail, and it’s the small businesses who are facing the toughest challenge right now…and they need your support. As the high-street re-opens this Monday, it will be a long, hard road before we get back to the way we remember. It will undoubtedly take time to get used to the new safety measures and customs, which will make for a very different shopping experience than in pre-COVID times.
Local store owners have been working very hard to prepare for the June 15th re-launch; deep-cleaning stock and putting up new safety fixtures, to create the safest possible environment. While safety is at the forefront of the collective mind, retailers are also striving to make the experience of shopping in Lytham St Annes as pleasurable and relaxing as possible.
Stringers Department Store and Homelife say; “although our shopping environment may feel a little different than before, we’re still committed to providing the same fantastic shopping experience you’ve always received in-store”. Their fitting rooms, toilets and espresso bar remain closed, and lifts will be limited to one household or single person at a time. The cosmetics department will provide ‘no-touch’ assistance.
Plackitt & Booth Booksellers are providing hand sanitizer for customers to use as they enter and leave. There are stickers every two metres, encouraging customers to follow a one-way system around the shop. A large Perspex sneeze guard has been fitted at the tills, and the door will remain open at all times.
Bond And Bloom have fitted a new door-access control to keep track of how many people are in store. Staff will be wearing gloves and aprons, plus fabric masks and visors if they are needed. A counter service will operate in the morning and early evening, while afternoons will be private browsing by appointment. 2-3 customers from one pre-booked group may browse together in-store, but must maintain social distance from each other if they are from a different household. “People are already booking their shopping slots,” says owner, Suzanne. Opening hours will also be extended until 7 pm on Thursdays and Fridays, as well as “partial-opening on Sundays, to help make Lytham an accessible, safe and pleasurable place to visit”.
Meanwhile, charity shops are calling out for donations and support as they re-open. The Mind Lytham branch is looking for volunteers who can spare a few hours, and promise to provide a safe working environment for workers. “The shop has had a deep clean, and all stock is steamed at high temperatures”.
Shopping in Lytham St Annes is going to feel different, but our fabulous stores are all going the extra mile to create a pleasant and welcoming high street. Don’t forget that there are ways you can support your favourite stores without visiting them. A glowing review or a recommendation from a friend can make a world of difference to a local business – so if you can’t go out and spend, tell a friend! We are fortunate to have some wonderful shops and talented traders on our high street, so let’s help it flourish again!
By Lucinda Herbert