Folk head back into Chorley town centre as non-essential shops reopen
It was business - but not quite as usual - for Chorley town centre shopkeepers today.
There was mixed reaction from retailers and traders as the country's non-essential shops were given the go ahead by the Government to reopen from this morning.
Some reported a busy relaunch while others said it had been quiet.
Perhaps shoppers were keeping their powder dry for tomorrow's busy market day when the markets and shops will be running side by side with shoppers out in numbers.
The bookies, for example, were under starter's orders again after being stabled by the lockdown for months.
Ladbrokes' shop on Flat Iron Parade, New Market Street, was providing safety measures such as signage, screens, masks and gloves.
"We only opened at ten but they were all queuing outside to get in," said shop manager Sarah Johnstone, on the eve of the hugely popular Royal Ascot meeting which starts tomorrow.
"We've not heard that anywhere else (other bookmakers)," she added.
Sarah said punters were following the safety rules and that the council, which runs the Market Walk shopping precinct, had been helping too.
"Market Walk have been good, They've put things outside for where to queue and been in touch seeing if we need any help and support."
The shop has temporarily reduced its opening hours to 10.30am to 4pm - "to see how it goes, which is good" said Sarah.
It was first day opening for Shaf's mobiles on New Market Street, too.
Assistant Shiraz Ahmed said mid morning that it had been very quiet.
"Nothing so far, no one's been in.
"You don't don't know yet, this is our first day, it's one of those things.
"I don't think straight away it's going to go back to normal."
He said customers would be asked to follow safety measures such as "one at a time" and that counters would have screens put up.
He said lockdown had been tough.
"If it's closing you down, you don't do any business.
"It's the longest holiday I've had in my life.
"Let's see, it's first day.
"People are scared. We were hesitant of coming here."
Grandad Jims Traditional Sweet Shoppe was open on Saturday.
Staff member Anton Dickinson said: "It's been fairly busy today - we had quite a few in on Saturday as well.
"We've got signs, hand sanitisers, we're wearing gloves, changing gloves every so often.
"We're not letting a lot of kids in all at once - a maximum of four kids at a time.
"It's back to normality, People can get their sweets again. They're happy."
At JK's E-cig Warehouse, Chapel Street, Chorley, Steven Jones, one of the owners of the family-run business, said: "It's our first day back - we're definitely glad to be back."
The shop, like all others, is implementing safety measure such as social distancing.
"Environmental Health have been round with Chorley Council this morning, first thing," said Steven.
"They made sure we'd got posters, hand sanitisers and things like that.
"We just serve from behind the counter and keep our social distance.
"We're still running on a skeleton staff at the moment because we don't know how trade is going to be.
"We've still got people on furlough - probably still four at the moment, half of the company really."
Malcolm Allen is chairman of Chorley Traders Alliance.
He runs Malcolm's Musicland shop on Chapel Street.
"We've had Environmental Health round checking what we're supposed to be doing," he said.
"They could see I've got screens, dispensers, markings on the floor, signs as you come in, so they were happy.
"It's all about confidence."
He said he thought it was mainly elderly people who were out shopping early on . . . "families with children not in school, they will probably come later in the day," he said.
"It's just getting back into this routine again."
Malclom defended Chorley Council's decision to charge again for using some car parks after they had been free in lockdown.
"We had to have car parking charges back," he said, "to make it easy access for customers coming into the town, rather than them being used by traders, staff, people who were just parking all day.
"The whole point is looking after customers and encouraging them to come back into the shops.
"We need the parking. People can use the long stay car parks, which won't cost them anything and they can get the exercise."
Meanwhile, shoppers have given the thumbs up to the shops reopening.
Alan Pill, 74, of Chorley, said: "This is the first time in ten weeks (coming to town).
"We've been down getting a few things.
"We go through the park at 6.30 every morning while there's nobody about.
"It's great to see the shops open again."
Graham Miller, 65, of Whittle-le-Woods, said: "I've not been down here for four or five weeks - I came down to the bank last time.
"Yeah, was wanting some shopping and thought we'd come down and have a look round.
"There seems to have been a lot of people knocking about.
"I think it's nice to have it back to some sort of normality
"It's good for trade and making a living and getting all these people back into employment again."