The reintroduction of stricter lockdown measures in Leicester is driving a return to early covid-19 trends in independent stores, according to retailers within the city.

On 1 July, the UK Government announced schools and non-essential shops would be forced to close, and planned reopening of bars, restaurants and hairdressers on 4 July would be delayed within Leicester following ‘a surge of coronavirus cases in the area’ which included 28 cases at Walkers’ crisp factory within the city.

A day after the reimposed measures, NFRN East Midlands district vice president and Norwich Road Food Store owner Sunilkumar Patel commented: “Everyone is taking it very seriously; customers started waiting outside without having to be asked, and keeping their distance from one another.  We had seen our sales start to return to normal over the weekend before but the return of lockdown that additional footfall and spend has returned again. People are buying more groceries in particular.”

Retired former Leicester shop owner and city resident Kunbhai Patel agreed and warned the shutting of much of the high street would again hit those independent stores that suffered the most under the initial lockdown. Sunilkumar added: “Many of those highstreet newsagents are still closed, and one said it’s really tough even before this week, the footfall just wasn’t there.  Those that had started to open up had unfurloughed staff so there’ll be a lot of pressure on them.”

Lockdown ‘just days’ away in other areas

Retailers in other areas also said they had begun preparing for further local lockdowns after Sky News reported that Public Health England was “just days” away from lockdowns in other areas. Sky News published a table of areas with the most weekly cases, nearly all of which were in the Midlands and the North. Bradford, Barnsley, Rochdale, Bedford and Oldham had the highest weekly cases per capita after Leicester.

Nicola Sturgeon also revealed that some Scottish areas would not be reopening with the rest of the country due to higher rates of infection. These included Gretna, Annan, Dumfries, Lockerbie, Langholm and Canonbie.

Wiltshire was also facing a rise in cases with the council launching a ‘Local Outbreak Management Plan’. While the County Council denied it would face renewed lockdown measures, stores said they were making plans for all eventualities.  Susan Connolly of Connolly Spar in Wiltshire said: “We are looking at more ways to keep everyone safe and planning stock levels to cope with the second wave. We had very few cases first time around.”