18 November, 2021
Energy in the air and tills ringing as customers rediscover the pleasures of shopping in-store
Apprehension and excitement turned to greetings and goodwill when Devonport store owners opened their doors to customers for the first time in three months last week.
Trading results varied from “busy” to “steady” to “it will build”, but the unan- imous response about getting back to a semblance of more normal business was one of relief – and hopes for a Christmas to remember.
“People have been really good at following the [Covid] requirements,” said Kim Snowball, founder of Fitzgerald Taylor boutique stationer. At Blue Illusion, manager Barbara Bradbury also noted that shoppers were very courteous and mindful of mask wearing. “It’s been quite a buzz today,” she said. Bradbury was pleased to see a few visitors from outside Devonport as well as locals. People were treating themselves, she said, a trend also noted by Echo Boutique owner Laura Foote.
Hammer Hardware co-owner Trevor Dean said some customers were a bit tentative about stepping back in store, but good processes reassured them. Having gone without access to bigger retailers elsewhere during lockdown, customers had come to appreciate local click and collect for the likes of garden supplies. “It’s driven a bit of local loyalty which is beautiful,” said Dean. Takings were well up on a normal pre-Covid day, he said. Other retailers also spoke warmly of the support of locals.
The Salvation Army Family Store said it had been flat out most of the day, with shoppers and people bringing in stockpiled donations. One person spent $170.
Bear Brothers owner Janet Bingham said it wasn’t as busy as after the first lockdown, but added: “I’m not complaining, it’s a positive start.”
Karen Yarnton said returning customers wanted to try on clothes, while Cosi Fan Tutte manager Lise Jourdain said people were attracted to gift shops so they could browse and discover. Green Planet co-owner John McCormack said he relied a lot on trade from visitors and “we haven’t needed crowd control”. But locals who had spotted things through the window had come in leading to some good sales.
At Devonport Optometrists people were booking eye checks, with receptionist Kimberley Blake saying: “There’s definitely a shift – more of an energy in the air.”
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