As someone who has lived and breathed retail for most of my adult life, I was incredibly excited to see non-essential retail start its gradual return in England last week.
I was delighted to see some familiar faces back through our doors along with many new ones too. And from the feedback I’ve had from our teams across the country, it is fair to say that I was not the only person excited about this important milestone.
We have seen some commentary in the papers over the past week about retail becoming sterile in the wake of the pandemic – but from everything that I’ve seen and heard our centres are anything but. It is true to say that shopping will be a different experience for a time, but our centres remain the warm and welcoming spaces our visitors have come to love, and our teams continue to focus on delivering joyful experiences, albeit from a distance.
And what has also been especially pleasing to me this week, is to welcome back some of our teams from furlough leave. Having them back in centres and back in our business is great news for all. However, whilst we have welcomed back some of our teams, we still do have people on furlough leave, who we are continuing to support.
As retail continues its gradual return, it is important to remember the guidelines that we must all follow when out shopping. Our fantastic teams are on hand to support you through your visit with us, but we ask you to also do your part. Please follow the instructions our teams provide and help us to ensure that everyone is as safe as possible in our centres.
And please be kind to each other –we are all getting used to this new way of doing things and together we can make sure that everyone has the best possible trip to the shops.
To help you prepare for your next visit, we have produced some guidance on what to expect. You can find this here.
Looking ahead, we hope to see non-essential retail in Scotland start its gradual re-opening in mid to late July in line with the Scottish governments guidelines, and of course in England we await the re-opening of leisure which will enable many of our restaurants and leisure facilities to start trading.
Thank you for your patience as we all get used to this new way of shopping, I look forward to seeing you in one of our centres soon.
And, as I have said before, a huge thank you to our teams who have worked tirelessly in getting our centres ready and ensuring that they are safe places for people to visit and work.
I hope that you and your loved ones are safe and well.