A high street retail survey among Elmbridge residents, which had almost 1000 responses, has highlighted that we are missing clothes and shoe shops (70.3%) the most during lockdown, with department stores (44.5%) and book shops (32.4%) in second and third place.

As shop owners across Elmbridge prepare to reopen, it seems the risk of contracting COVID-19 is the biggest concern among respondents, with over a quarter (27.3%) expecting to wait a few weeks before deciding on whether to return to the high street.

Respondents also said they expect queues in shops, social distancing measures, contactless card payments and being unable to touch or try on items when they return to the high street.

36% of respondents do not expect to return to the high street when it re-opens on June 15, with 34% responding ‘maybe’ and 30% expecting to return on day 1 of re-opening. When asked if they would expect to return later on in the week of 15 June, 32% said yes, 28% said no and 40% said maybe.

Cllr Christine Elmer, Portfolio Holder for Community and Corporate Development, understands the caution being displayed by Elmbridge residents on returning to the high street but is keen to stress the hard work retailers and Elmbridge Borough Council are putting into make the high street re-opening as safe as possible: 

“Our retailers are implementing queuing systems, one-way store navigation, extra cleaning and screens at check outs all to make the shopping experience as safe as possible. From Elmbridge Borough Council’s side, we are supporting local high streets and parades with signage, street cleaning and our ‘Love Elmbridge’ campaign aimed to encourage shoppers to respect social distancing, shop local and most of all to be kind to each other when they return to the high street.”

Shop owners from around the borough are telling Elmbridge Borough Council about their re-opening and all those details can be found on EBC’s website. Additionally, almost 70 high street retailers have been awarded a grant of up to £250 to implement safety measures such as screens and social distancing signage. Elmbridge Borough Council has paid 1,615 grants to Elmbridge businesses, worth £22.7M (approx. 95% of the initial funding given to Elmbridge Borough Council by Government).