05:38PM, Tuesday 13 April 2021
High Street, Maidenhead
One Maidenhead non-essential shop owner has said that 'a lot of people' are out in the town this week as restrictions ease - but has feared that the 'novelty' may wear off.
Coronavirus regulations relaxed yesterday (Monday) to allow non-essential shops to reopen their doors, along with venues like gyms and hairdressers, after several months of closure.
Hospitality businesses were also allowed to serve people outdoors from this week.
Michael Bell, store manager at Feng Tech, a mobile phone repair shop in the Nicholsons Centre, said that the last few days have been busy for his business, but he does not expect this to last.
"The last couple of days have been a little bit nuts," he said. "Everyone has been breaking their devices over lockdown and we are playing catch-up now.
"We have had more customers than we had before the lockdown. I am suspecting that this week is going to be ridiculous - but after that the high street is going to be dead.
"Everyone seems to be going out and getting everything they want, but soon they are going to order online.
"I am surprised online did not take over in the first lockdown."
Michael added: "We are open, and we hope to be for the foreseeable future. We can't say what is round the corner.
"At the moment, there is plenty of people getting stuff sorted out, but I do think the novelty will wear off."
Tony Wanli owns Rotana Interiors Maidenhead, a furniture store in the shopping centre.
He said that his business is different in that people do not come in and spend money straight away like they do in supermarkets, but he told the Advertiser that he has seen a slight uplift in people shopping in Maidenhead this week.
"A lot of people are out actually," he said. "So far it is okay. Yesterday (Monday) and today, I have been very busy.
"We are different because we sell furniture, so people need to take sizes and measurements and go home, then come back to the store again.
"I have actually seen quite a big difference [in people]. It is nice to see them out. People are just trying to have a look around and spend some money."
Tony said that he had about 30 people visit his shop on the first day back trading yesterday, but he did fear for the high street in Maidenhead losing some big names in Dorothy Perkins and Topshop.
"There are a lot of shops that have gone for good. It is sad. You don't want to see empty shops," he said.
Mamaloo's South African Shop, in Brock Lane, is in a different position to other businesses as it was allowed to operate during lockdown, because it sells food.
But new owner Fazira Koumantarakis said that the road has not been smooth for her, as she was not able to claim furlough, or Government-backed grants, due to her remaining open.
She now hopes that Maidenhead High Street will pick up again now other shops are opening, and says she has given her business a new look to drive people into Brock Lane.
"It has been a tough few months because footfall obviously dropped," Fazira said. "And we have had to continue paying full rent. I really went through hell, it has been a tough time.
"If I have been through this, I can get through anything.
"But the support from the community has been excellent. And if there is more people, there is more footfall, so things are picking up.
"The shop looks really different. I have changed quite a few things around, and random new faces are coming in and having a look. People are more inquisitive to find out what is going on here. It's very different to all the other shops in Maidenhead."
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