09:00PM, Wednesday 24 February 2021
Business owners in the borough have expressed relief at the news of a date set to reopen non-essential retail.
Boris Johnson announced on Monday that non-essential shops and hairdressers can re-open on April 12 at the earliest.
For many businesses, this cannot come too soon.
The Pincushion wool shop in St Mark’s Crescent has a lot of elderly customers who have not been out and are less likely to use click and collect or other online offerings for non-essential goods.
“At the moment we’re getting one customer a day, earning £10 a day if we’re lucky,” said owner Caroline Woodall. “We have had all the grants we can from the Government.”
Government grants and business rates relief have helped non-essential shops survive a difficult period and many find that they are ‘in a lucky position’.
Rebecca De Jager runs Hugo’s Workshop, which sells products in Maidenhead Gift Emporium on St Mark’s Road. It has been doing well online but she is looking forward to selling from a shop front again.
“It’s really exciting, it’s so good to have a date even if it is far in the future,” said Rebecca. “It’s something to look forward to, so much better than all this uncertainty.
“I don’t think there’s going to be any making up for lost time – Christmas is the time where we make most of our money, and I didn’t get to sell the usual stocking fillers this year.”
Craft Coop in the Nicholsons Shopping Centre provides a space for around 200 small craft businesses to sell their wares.
“It’s sad we’re not going to be open for Mothers’ Day – Mothers’ Day is our second highest selling time after Christmas and we had to close for Mothers’ Day last year,” said director Deborah Jones.
She added that reopening would also provide some relief to crafts people currently stuck at home.
“Craft Coop gets them out to talk about their crafts. They have missed so many events and opportunities to interact with people,” she said.
“From a mental health point of view that’s much difficult for us.”
Shop owners and managers have stressed that they are principally concerned with safety and do not want to rush things.
“No matter how much we want to shop, it would be awful to open again if we opened too soon,” said Deborah.
“On the one hand, we didn’t want to be closed for Christmas, on the other, the repercussions were not good and we regretted it.
“I think in general people realise that was a mistake.”
The current Government plan for reopening up the country depend on rates of infection.
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