The VERY wide range of ‘essential’ shops finding a reason to stay open as lockdown starts


A wide range of High Street businesses have stayed open despite the introduction of new lockdown restrictions allowing just essential shops to welcome customers. 

Non-essential retailers had to shut their doors from Thursday onwards, including betting shops, vape stores and clothing retailers. 

The run up to Christmas is often one of the busiest times of the year for high street stores – but many have been forced to close under lockdown restrictions introduced to stop the spread of coronavirus as a second wave sweeps through the UK. 

However, others continued trading on Thursday, with some finding reasons to declare themselves essential to follow the new government guidelines. 

In Alresford, Hampshire several businesses remained open. Alresford has a population of around 5,000 and in the 14th century it established itself as a prosperous market town, focusing on the wool and leather trade.

Today, 14 shops appeared to be open for business in the sleepy Hampshire town – including two butchers, a wine store, two coffee shops, a pet shop, a newsagents, two optician’s, a dentist, a fish and chip shop, a patisserie and a pharmacy.

Independent shop owners along the picturesque high street have closed as they did in March, but this time more have managed to remain open under the new restrictions. 

However, they have voiced their frustrations, claiming the latest lockdown felt like an ‘overreaction’ and said locals were ‘miserable’ about the latest restrictions.

On Kensington High Street in London, even more businesses remained open to customers on Thursday, including stationery store Rymans which said it offered ‘essential’ package collection and money transfer services. 

Shopkeepers in the cathedral city of Salisbury reacted angrily today as the new lockdown began. 

Some complained of what they perceive as double standards as shops like WHSmith are deemed as ‘essential’ and allowed them to stay open, whilst several bookshops and other stores are forced to close.

Here, MailOnline shares some of the stores that have managed to stay open amid the new lockdown.  

Alresford  

The wine store ravaged by the first lockdown but is now essential

Simon Evans, 43, owner of The Naked Grape, for 15 years was unable to open during the lockdown in March but can do so now

Simon Evans, 43, owner of The Naked Grape, for 15 years was unable to open during the lockdown in March but can do so now

Simon Evans, 43, has owned his wine shop, The Naked Grape, for 15 years and was unable to open during the lockdown in March.

However, now under the new rules he will be allowed to remain open thanks to the shops classification as an essential retailer.

Mr Evans said: ‘We have taken all the restrictions extremely seriously and we are only allowing one person in at a time. As well as having masks and screens of course.

‘I think we will do ok over the next month, it has been ok today and we will just have to keep going.

‘We have had a small queue and we have been doing a lot of online deliveries. December is usually our busiest time of year.

‘The rules are different this time around as far as we understand and so we have therefore been allowed to stay open.’

The pet shop owner who isn’t celebrating being allowed to stay open

Alex Brewerton, 39, only recently took over ownership of The Pet Shop in July. Speaking today he voiced his frustrations and said the lockdown 'doesn't marry up with what his eyes were telling him'

Alex Brewerton, 39, only recently took over ownership of The Pet Shop in July. Speaking today he voiced his frustrations and said the lockdown ‘doesn’t marry up with what his eyes were telling him’

Alresford is home to the Watercress Line, a steam-worked heritage railway, and attracts tourists visitors due to its classical Georgian streets and idyllic location near Winchester and the South Downs National Park.

Further down the high street, Alex Brewerton, 39, only recently took over ownership of The Pet Shop in July.

Speaking today he voiced his frustrations and said the lockdown ‘doesn’t marry up with what his eyes were telling him’.

He continued: ‘Its all just a bit miserable. I think there is a general feeling that everyone here has behaved and it feels like an overreaction.

‘As a shopkeeper speaking to a few other people they are extremely concerned they won’t make it through this one. The travel shop in particular.

‘I don’t have a great attitude about it to be honest. I’m not celebrating being able to stay open, I want to see a busy, bustling high street. I don’t enjoy seeing my friends in other businesses struggling.

‘The truth is we got on with the last time but I find this one a bit more miserable – there very few cases here in Alresford and it seems to be unfair on everyone who has followed government guidance up until now.’ 

KENSINGTON HIGH STREET

The stationery shop that provides ‘essential’ DHL parcel and money transfer services

Karl Anderson, 26, of Ryman ¿ with colleague Patrina Scanlon, 37. He said the essential services provided by the store were Western Union money transfers and DHL parcels

Karl Anderson, 26, of Ryman – with colleague Patrina Scanlon, 37. He said the essential services provided by the store were Western Union money transfers and DHL parcels

Karl Anderson, 26, of Ryman said: ‘What we were told is we’re just working for now until any further updates.

‘It’s been quiet today, because lots of people are at home and if people aren’t going to be at work they don’t really need any supplies.

He said the essential services provided by the store were Western Union money transfers and DHL parcels.

Mr Anderson added: ‘Even during the previous lockdown there were still people using courier services.’

Holland and Barrett branch allowed to stay open because of it’s food and supplements  

Maryam Mohammadneja Amoli who works at Holland and Barrett in Kensington High Street. Staff say it is a normal day in the shop

Maryam Mohammadneja Amoli who works at Holland and Barrett in Kensington High Street. Staff say it is a normal day in the shop

Daniel Lee, 34, of Holland and Barrett said: ‘I believe it’s for the food that we’re allowed to open, and the supplements as well.

‘There’s been a decline since yesterday but it’s been OK today.

‘We’ve been open every day (since March). For us, it’s a normal day.’

The sports shop partially open because it fixes bikes 

Decathlon is open on Kensington High Street. Customers are allowed in to get their bikes fixed and look at some items for cycling

Decathlon is open on Kensington High Street. Customers are allowed in to get their bikes fixed and look at some items for cycling

An employee at Decathlon, who did not wish to be named, said: ‘We’re open for the click and collect and the cycling department – all the rest is closed.

‘We are also fixing bikes, so a customer can come and fix his bike and in the meantime check some items for cycling.

‘They cannot physically go around the store because they cannot touch.

‘We are going to see if we can manage, because of course the income will be less. A lot of our colleagues are probably going on furlough.

‘This week until Saturday we are going to see how it’s going to be, then from Saturday we’ll see if it’s fair to open or not.’

The store hoping to attract customers turning to DIY during lockdown

Wayne Walsh, 29, of Skillman and Sons hardware shop is hoping for custom from people who might be doing more DIY over the coming weeks because they are stuck in lockdown

Wayne Walsh, 29, of Skillman and Sons hardware shop is hoping for custom from people who might be doing more DIY over the coming weeks because they are stuck in lockdown

Wayne Walsh, 29, of Skillman and Sons hardware shop said: ‘We closed from the end of March to early June, and we’ve been open since then.

‘We were open initially because we were classed as essential, but there was no one in the area, there was no custom.

‘It seems like there’s more this time. There’s definitely been a downturn in the last couple of weeks.’

He said the shop did not require special permission to open because it is classed as essential.

Mr Walsh added that the store is hoping for custom from people who might be doing more DIY over the coming weeks because they are stuck in lockdown. 

The pharmacy owner who claims we aren’t really in a lockdown

Hussein Habib said the first national lockdown in March saw everything closed but, this time, 'all is open' and it isn't like before

Hussein Habib said the first national lockdown in March saw everything closed but, this time, ‘all is open’ and it isn’t like before

Hussein Habib, 58, of Pestle & Mortar pharmacy said: ‘It’s not a lockdown – look at it. Not like before the first lockdown, it was completely closed, now look, all open.’

He said the shop has been open throughout lockdown, but trade has dropped off in the past two days.

The shop does not need to get special permission to open because it is a pharmacy.

Mr Habib added that there are only two shops he knows of that have been closed permanently since March – Argos and the Ryness lighting shop.

The street florist who hopes they’ll be able to stay open 

Kasia, of Kensington Flower Corner hopes that they would be able to stay open.

Kasia, of Kensington Flower Corner hopes that they would be able to stay open.

Kasia, of Kensington Flower Corner said her boss had told her they would be allowed to open and said business had been ‘normal’, adding that she hoped that they would be able to stay open.

The dry cleaning company that was getting back to normal before lockdown came in 

; Moh Jishi, 41, of American Dry Cleaning Company said the shop was 'getting back to normal' and was 'doing ok' before the lockdown came back in

; Moh Jishi, 41, of American Dry Cleaning Company said the shop was ‘getting back to normal’ and was ‘doing ok’ before the lockdown came back in 

Moh Jishi, 41, of American Dry Cleaning Company said: ‘We are a big company, we have 30 branches. This is one of the busiest shops we have, one of the top.

‘We don’t get suits, shirts, which we used to get as the main items. We closed until June.

‘This shop was OK, it was going back to the norm – until now. Let’s hope this will end by December 2.’

SALISBURY 

Shopkeepers in the cathedral city of Salisbury reacted angrily today as the new lockdown began.

High street businesses that have struggled since the coronavirus pandemic began warned that this could be the final nail in the coffin for many of them.

Some complained of what they perceive as double standards as shops like WHSmith are deemed as ‘essential’ and allowed them to stay open, whilst several bookshops and other stores are forced to close.

Smaller retailers forced to close their doors are resorting to the internet and social media to try to keep going.

 

The clothes shop with an off license in the back 

Clothes shop owner Jason Regent, 48, says the new lockdown is 'so confusing'. He thinks he is able to stay open because of the off licence in the back of the store

Clothes shop owner Jason Regent, 48, says the new lockdown is ‘so confusing’. He thinks he is able to stay open because of the off licence in the back of the store

Clothes shop owner Jason Regent, 48, who has owned and run Regent Tailoring for 14 years, said: ‘The first lockdown nearly broke me.

‘I have to be an entertainer on Instagram these days, just to get people to remember us.

‘We have to be funny and upbeat and happy in things like videos to do that.

‘We’re trying our hardest to get people to buy online, but it has to be through social media.

‘This lockdown is so confusing. I have got an off licence around the back of the store, and they said off licences can remain open.

‘Does that mean I can open? For me there is no real guidance on whether I can open or not.

‘We’ve got a really nice website too – but no one knows who we are. We are just a little shop in Salisbury.’

The gift store open for 37 years which has been forced to turn to social media to survive 

Susi Mason, who opened her Casa Fina gift store with her mother 37 years ago, has had to adapt her business to survive during the pandemic

Susi Mason, who opened her Casa Fina gift store with her mother 37 years ago, has had to adapt her business to survive during the pandemic

In a similar situation is Susi Mason, who opened her Casa Fina gift store with her mother 37 years ago, and has had to adapt her business to survive during covid.

The mother of two, 55, said: ‘I have very active Facebook and Instagram accounts now, which I think is essential now.

‘I think if people spent the first lockdown painting their houses and waiting around, they won’t be up and running now with their online products.

‘This second lockdown is a devastating blow. For a business like mine, which specialises in gifts for Christmas, it will impact us as much as three months in spring time.

‘If it [lockdown] went on further than December it would be even more serious.

‘Lots of small. independent businesses may feel a little aggrieved that many of the bigger stores can remain open.

‘It is the little stores like ours which will suffer.’ 

So what IS essential? Health food, stationery and DIY stores stay OPEN – as shoppers buy Christmas decorations and birthday balloons on first day of second lockdown

Christmas shopping was on the essential to do list today as shoppers bought festive decorations on the first day of lockdown. 

As England plunged into a four-week lockdown with pubs, restaurants and retail stores forced to pull the shutters down, some businesses escaped the swingeing restrictions in force today. 

Ryman’s stationers, Wilko, discount trader OneBelow and Poundland are among the High Street names still open.  

Some family-run shops like Plastic Free Weigh/Refill 2 You in Knutsford have also dodged the clampdown.  

A number of shops are open for click and collect customers, such as Pandora, Next, the Non Stop Party store in Kensington, west London and GAME – which will offer a collection service on November 10 and 19 to coincide with new console launches. 

Shoppers were also able to get their hands on festive items today with stores including The Range staying open for business.   

Customers at The Range in Southend-on-Sea, Essex, were seen leaving with a variety of purchases like Christmas trees

Customers at The Range in Southend-on-Sea, Essex, were seen leaving with a variety of purchases like Christmas trees

One shooper at the The Range in Southend-on-Sea, Essex, was seen carrying a festive reindeer decoration with a quirky red bowtie

One shooper at the The Range in Southend-on-Sea, Essex, was seen carrying a festive reindeer decoration with a quirky red bowtie

One shopper was seen with balloons on London's High Street Kensington, where shops are also open for click and collect customers, such as the Non Stop Party store in Kensington

One shopper was seen with balloons on London’s High Street Kensington, where shops are also open for click and collect customers, such as the Non Stop Party store in Kensington

The run up to Christmas is often one of the busiest times of the year for high street stores – but many have been forced to close under lockdown restrictions introduced to stop the spread of coronavirus as a second wave sweeps through the UK. 

Despite this, one shopper was spotted clutching a fistful of balloons as she hit the stores on London’s High Street Kensington.

Others were seen leaving shops in The Range in Southend-on-Sea, Essex, with artificial Christmas trees and carrying a festive reindeer decoration with a quirky red bowtie.  

Non-essential retailers had to shut their doors from Thursday onwards, including betting shops, vape stores and clothing retailers. 

But many chains have been allowed to remain open, including craft and bargain stores.  

Stationery store Rymans has remained open, and Timpson stores are also welcoming customers.  

Robert Dyas and Wilko stores have also not been forced to shut under the current lockdown restrictions.   

Alternative health chain Holland and Barrett has 765 UK stores and counts as an essential retailer because its products cater for people with special dietary needs

Alternative health chain Holland and Barrett has 765 UK stores and counts as an essential retailer because its products cater for people with special dietary needs

Ryman's stationery stores are also open during the second lockdown across the UK

Ryman’s stationery stores are also open during the second lockdown across the UK

The Almond and Raisins Health Food store in Newcastle's historic Grainger Market has its doors open after remaining closed during the first lockdown

The Almond and Raisins Health Food store in Newcastle’s historic Grainger Market has its doors open after remaining closed during the first lockdown 

Laundrettes and dry cleaners are also classed as an essential service and allowed to continue serving customers – as they were during the first lockdown. 

Alternative health shops are also classed as essential under lockdown guidelines.  

Holland and Barrett stores have stayed open and customers are welcome to come in and browse the shelves for healthy food, vitamins and supplements. 

The alternative health chain has over 750 UK stores and counts as an essential retailer because its products cater for people with special dietary needs.

The chain also remained open during the first lockdown as they are classed as a food retailer. 

Holland and Barrett shoppers in Eastbourne said they were pleased the health food and supplement store was open.

Kayleigh James, 19, said: ‘It might not be absolutely essential to buy health food products but I think shoppers are taking a sensible approach, wearing masks, sanitising and stuff so I think it is reasonable for them to be open.’

Safety measures in store include customer limits, sanitising stations, protective screens and protective wear for colleagues.

Anthony Houghton, Group Retail and Property Director,said: ‘The health of our colleagues and customers is our biggest priority, and our stores have social distancing measures in place to help everyone in our stores feel as safe as possible.’ 

Other independent health food chains are also open to the public. 

The Almond and Raisins Health Food store in Newcastle’s historic Grainger Market has its doors open after remaining closed during the first lockdown. 

The shop sells a range of products including minerals and supplements, and aromatherapy and eco-household products. 

Store manager Elizabeth Kemp said they had seen a few customers come in on the first day of the second national lockdown. 

Robert Dyas stores are also welcoming customers in their high street stores around the UK

Robert Dyas stores are also welcoming customers in their high street stores around the UK

The Wilko shop on London's Kensington High Street was also open this morning as the second lockdown began in the UK

The Wilko shop on London’s Kensington High Street was also open this morning as the second lockdown began in the UK 

She said: ‘We’ve had a few people in, even though the Grainger Market is quite quiet. 

‘We are a health food store – a bit like Holland and Barrett but we’re independent. 

‘We were pleased to be included in the list of essential stores that could remain open because so many people rely on us. 

‘They prefer to come to us than go to the main chain stores in the Eldon Square shopping centre. 

James Timpson, the Chief Exececutive of the Timpson Group, confirmed on social media that his stores would remain open

James Timpson, the Chief Exececutive of the Timpson Group, confirmed on social media that his stores would remain open

Timpson cobblers are open, although the chain's chief executive says he expects sales will be lower

Timpson cobblers are open, although the chain’s chief executive says he expects sales will be lower

‘One elderly lady has been coming to our shop since it opened 40 years ago, and she buys senna pods which she has always taken since she was a little girl.’  

James Timpson, the Chief Executive of the Timpson Group, confirmed on social media that his stores would remain open during the second lockdown. 

The Timpson chain are cobblers that also provide dry cleaning, phone repairs, key cutting and locksmith services in some of their stores.

Mr Timpson said that although their stores will remain open he expects lower sales than normal.

He said: ‘In England virtually all our shops will be stay open in this lockdown as we offer essential services, but sales will be lower I suspect by some margin.’ 

Rymans stationery stores have also remained open.

Their website reads: ‘We provide essential services and we’re open for business as usual.’

It adds: ‘Ryman provides essential services such as DHL, Post Offices and Western Union money transfers and our stores will remain open for business as usual during November.’ 

The chain’s website lists a number of covid safety requirements such as asking customers to maintain social distancing and pay with card where possible. 

Shops are allowed to open under current restrictions as long as they can operate in a Covid-secure way and follow Covid-secure guidelines to protect customers, visitors and workers. 

The Health Food co in Leeds is open during the second lockdown. It was open during the shutdown earlier this year but owner Geoff Millington, 67, says this lockdown feels different

The Health Food co in Leeds is open during the second lockdown. It was open during the shutdown earlier this year but owner Geoff Millington, 67, says this lockdown feels different 

Mr Millington also owns a separate health food store in York which remains open to the public

Mr Millington also owns a separate health food store in York which remains open to the public

Geoff Millington, 67, who owns two health food shops in Leeds and one in York, said he feels like this lockdown is different for customers. 

His stores remained open during the first lockdown as they sell food, like nuts and oats.  

Mr Millington, who owns The Health Food Co and Millies in Leeds, and a separate health food store in York, said: ‘There’s certainly more people around than during the last lockdown. 

‘People understand the virus this time a bit better, and they are not as scared about it.  

‘I’ve just walked around Leeds to see what is open and this time round I’ve noticed places like Costa coffee is open and places are open for takeaways. 

‘There’s actually a newsagent open selling tobacco and stuff – I was surprised.  

‘The streets are slightly busier than last time, but its a stark contrast to this week as the last three days have felt like it’s Christmas.’   

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