What you need to know when braving the shops
When it comes to the easing of lockdown rules, there are two groups of people. Those who rush out on the first day for haircuts, shopping sprees and drinks – and those who chose to wait and see what happens.
If you’re in the latter group, then you may well have despaired about scenes of mega queues outside certain cut-price retailers.
But don’t worry – now things have settled down a bit, here’s what you need to know if you’re popping to the shops.
Do we need the high street?
In the last year, complaints about online shops and deliveries have hit extraordinary levels with more than 250,000 complaints about online shops alone. So I, for one, am all for a return to the high street (following the rules, of course). Try to support your local, independent shops – they need your help most. And you’ll miss them when they’ve gone.
Around the UK
The rules are different around the UK, so be aware of the differences if you’re planning on crossing a border – including the travel rules.
In Scotland some shops were able to open earlier than the rest of the UK, non-essential retailers aren’t likely to open till April 26.
Outdoor drinking and dining doesn’t begin till the April 26 in Wales – though shops and hairdressers are open.
In Northern Ireland, click and collect is back on at non-essential stores – but not browsing for now.
This is changing rapidly so keep an eye on new announcements at tinyurl.com/5njctmvp
Out of hours shopping
Shops will be allowed to extend their opening hours to 10pm to help space out shoppers and avoid congestion. Why not plan a later shopping spree after the initial rush?
As savvy sales fans know, supermarkets tend to restock their shelves or mark down items in the evening, so it’s a good time to find a scarce item or get a bargain.
Queues and masks
The world hasn’t reverted back to normal and Covid restrictions are still in place. So don’t be surprised if you have to queue in the streets to get into certain shops, which may take the shine of the experience.
One of the biggest areas of complaint in the last year when it came to shopping in the real world was mask wearing and enforcement. It’s unfair to expect shops to act like the police, dealing with aggressive mask dodgers. But expect a much tougher enforcing of the rules than last time.
Changing rooms aren’t likely to be open too, so the age-old problem of whether items will fit (or suit you) will continue to be
decided at home for now.
Make sure you find out what the returns policy is for the store before you pay. If you want to take a few items home to try on, speak to a sales assistant first – don’t assume you can do this. Your right to return goods that are perfectly fine (not damaged or wonky) is at the shop’s discretion though your statutory rights (more later) are not affected.
Your rights remain the same and you can find out more in my guide at news.resolver.co.uk/shoppingand-returns-know-your-rights/
I’ve been flooded with enquiries from people who’ve been told to wait till the high street opens before physically returning items.
That customer service desk is likely to be super busy, so try having a little ‘fly by’ the staff on the door of the shop to ask what the deal is with returning items, rather than lugging them down to the store, waiting in a queue, then being sent home again.
Finally, getting back to something even close to normality is going to be weird, fabulous, frustrating and different. Show the staff you care. ■ Need help with a shop situation? Resolver can help sort things out for free. Find out more at resolver.co.uk