Lockdown 3.0 - How are St Albans businesses faring as restrictions continue?

A perspex screen in place at Chloe James Lifestyle.

A perspex screen in place at Chloe James Lifestyle. - Credit: Archant

After months of lockdowns and other pandemic measures, the pressures on our local business owners have not eased, and if anything, they have got worse.

So how are they coping with the current restrictions, and what are they doing to ensure they survive and thrive in the coming months? We spoke to a selection of independent retailers to catch up on what they've been up to, and find out their plans for the future.

Tere Harrington, from Raindrops on Roses, said: "To be honest, things have been tough for us since closing our doors for Lockdown 3.0, and January is always our quietest month, but we’re lucky that we’ve had quite a few online sales, and they’re really picking up now. This period has given us time to work on our website and look for new products for spring and summer.

Raindrops and Roses in St Albans.

Raindrops and Roses in St Albans. - Credit: Archant

"We’ve had lots of lovely messages of support from customers and passers-by when we’ve been open for click and collect and by email/through our website, it’s given us a real boost. It does feel people are shopping local more than in the past, which is really encouraging for the future of our local high street."

Alison Lloyd of jewellers Amalily in George Street said: "St Albans has a strong and supportive local community and it’s been amazing how everyone has supported each other.

"Since our doors closed, I’ve used the time to streamline the online shop, innovate and move the business forward with the launch of a new clothing line, which is really exciting for us.

"And I’m doing all I can to keep connected with customers, our followers on social media and subscribers from our website, which I think is really important during lockdown.

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"It's been fun keeping creative by dressing the shop windows regularly, so people can enjoy a little visual feast on their daily walk. Far from resting, I’m in store for click and collect services, packaging orders for delivery five days a week and to keep planning our future plans.

"I firmly believe that the people of St Albans value their high street and the premium service and unique products on offer, but we need support now so that we are still here offering that same exclusivity when we come out on the other side.

"It’s all too easy to shop with the faceless online giants when we are all cooped up at home but local businesses are open and can provide unusual products with a much better service.

"St Albans will one day soon be thriving, with our quaint streets busy with tourists and it will all be thanks to the local community that came together and got us all through."

Donna Nichol from High Street boutique Chloe James said: "This lockdown seems even tougher than previous ones, probably partly because of the miserable weather.

"January and February are always a difficult time of year for retail, but being closed takes that to a whole new level. I think there’s the general fatigue that everyone is feeling, a sort of ‘here we go again’ but, at the same time I’m pleased to see people mostly adhering to the restrictions. None of us wants another lockdown after this one!"

She said one of the positives to come out of the current lockdown is that their online business is booming.

"As well as serving our local customers, this has taken us to a national audience. Whilst I’m absolutely thrilled about this, I am really looking forward to a return to business as usual in the shop.

"It’s vital to the local community that our city centre remains a vibrant and lovely place to be. Nothing is more depressing than rows and rows of boarded up shops. I’m really hoping that the business rates holiday is extended to enable retailers to get back on their feet."