Shoppers in Scotland have been reminded over mask-wearing and distancing as retailers look to claw back £4.1 billion in lost sales since the start of the pandemic.
From Monday, “non-essential” shops are allowed to open their doors to the public after being shuttered since Boxing Day, with millions spent on safety-proofing them against Covid transmission.
The Scottish Retail Consortium urged shoppers to queue considerately and be mindful over distancing and mask-wearing after “four long months of closure” for shops.
It expects an “initial surge” as customers venture out but said the “real test will be how this holds up”.
Director David Lonsdale said: “Retailers have spent millions of pounds to make shops Covid-secure for customers and colleagues.
“We encourage Scots to get out and visit their favourite shops over the coming weeks knowing every purchase they make and every item they buy is a local job supported and a high street helped.
“Unlocking consumer spending will be central to Scotland’s economic recovery and to bouncing back quickly.
“Many of us will be looking forward to returning to our favourite shop in the coming weeks and we all have a duty to keep each other safe.”
Lush on Edinburgh’s Princes Street had a small queue of people waiting outside for its doors to open on Monday.
Manager Alan Brown said staff had been looking forward to welcoming back customers.
He told the PA news agency: “We’re all really excited, we’ve been preparing for the last few weeks with lots of training, with the shop, getting all the new products out as well.
“We’re just really excited to be speaking to people again after such a long time.”
He added he was looking forward to “a bit of laughter, a bit of fun” inside the store with the return of customers.
Queues also formed outside the nearby Zara store while some shops opened extra early.
Primark on Princes Street welcomed shoppers at 7.30am, and one shopper told the PA news agency she was delighted to be back in the store.
She said: “It’s great fun, I got loads – jammies, a jacket, socks, a pair of jeans, stuff for the kids – they were running riot, they thought it was great.”
Meanwhile, the public were asked to think about staying local and supporting businesses in struggling town centre high streets.
Scotland’s Towns Partnership’s Phil Prentice says it is vital that economic recovery from the pandemic grows from the grassroots.
He said: “By supporting your local businesses you will be helping the national recovery.
“The importance of today for those retail, hospitality and leisure businesses which have been unable to open since December cannot be underestimated. Their survival, however, depends on support. And the most critical support comes from their community. This is a chance to rediscover and celebrate all that’s on our doorstep.
“We hope that today can signal the start of a summer of success, both in terms of beating the pandemic and for businesses bouncing back.
“Thinking local first – and safety first – will give the greatest chances of realising those hopes.”
As well as retailers and other shops, gyms, swimming pools, tourist accommodation, libraries and beauty salons are among the venues which can once again serve customers from Monday.