"It is a good start, but it is only the beginning" - retail experts in Leeds confident after first week of re-opening

The recovery of retail in Leeds is well underway say city experts after a successful post lockdown re-opening.

By Emma Ryan
Friday, 19th June 2020, 6:00 am
Updated Friday, 19th June 2020, 11:08 am

The first day of shopping on Monday, following a three month coronavirus closure, saw tills ringing as customers queued for hours to shop at some of the city's high street favourites.

And while footfall is currently just 30 per cent of what is usually would be for this time of year, there is a confidence that if it continues like this - businesses and the city's economy can start to get back on track.

Martin Dickson, head of marketing at LeedsBID said: "It is a good start, but it is only the beginning of the re-build. After three months of being totally shut down it will take time but as long as it keeps going and people keep coming - we have got to be confident."

The queue to get into Primark in Leeds on Monday snaked out of Trinity Leeds and into the street.

Plans had been in the making for weeks ahead of Monday's re-opening and, as predicted, it was stores such as Primark, Sports Direct and H&M which were busy - but in a similar picture to other parts of the country.

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"On the other side, in Victoria Quarter, there was a queue most of the day for Louis Vuitton. They were only letting two or three people in at a time and there was a queue at Ted Baker. It was the A to Z of the shopping experience. Primark doesn't sell much online and if you are buying something expensive, you want to try it on. It was interesting."

He added that a lot of people came out as they expected there to be sales and bargains, but were happy to queue and observe the social distancing measures such as two metre markers and one way systems.

One way system, arrow markers and deep cleaning are a regular part of Trinity's new normal.

Marks and Spencer, Next and Boots traded at around 30 per cent of normal, however, Mr Dickson said scale needed to be added to this figure, given it was 30 per cent more that a few weeks ago.

While footfall was slightly down on Tuesday, compared, there is a look ahead to the weekend, where trends would suggest people usually head to the high street.

Mr Dickson said: "We are coming towards the first weekend. It feels like there has been no difference between a Wednesday and a Saturday but we know that lots of people are creatures of habit. The working population is 31m people. Of that, a third have carried on working during lockdown and if they are not on shifts, are off on a Saturday.

"We are now beginning to see quite clearly that people want the experience of being in the city centre, getting a coffee, looking in the shops and meeting a friend. What we are building to hopefully is that when the hospitality comes back, particularly cafes and restaurants, we will see another wave of people and the atmosphere will return."

Staff were on the door of Primark and most major shops this week to balance between shoppers hitting the high street and social distancing.

Welcome back to Leeds is an info hub designed to help guide you safely back to the city centre in the months ahead. welcometoleeds.co.uk #backtoleeds

The Welcome Back to Leeds website features advice on what shops are open, where to park and more.