Vape shops Boris

Retailers are set to celebrate ‘Freedom Day’ with special themed events and promotions to mark the removal of coronavirus restrictions.

Arjan Singh Rhoud, of Premier Morley Convenience in Leeds, said: “We’ve just had a section for US imported soft drinks and confectionery installed, and we’re going to run a themed US-day on 19 July.

“There will be a barbecue outside the shop and we’ll promote products such as imported confectionery and soft drinks.

“Social media is really good for us and we’ll be raising awareness of the day in the run-up.”

Similarly, Vas Vekaria, of Premier Lever Edge Convenience in Bolton, will be having a live band, as well as serving fresh pizza and Indian food outside his store.

Mask laws ‘ignored’ as ‘Freedom Day’ nears

The celebration will follow what is likely to be a busy month for local shops, with sales driven by Euro 2020, Wimbledon and the Olympics.

Another store owner added: “We’ve had a lot of success over the past month with the sporting events. If the government sticks to its 19 July date, we’ll most likely continue with our sports theme.”

Alcohol promotions were another common plan. Chris Herring, of Londis Shiphay Post Office in Torquay, said: “Customers will probably want to open a bottle of Champagne or similar, so promotions might be a good area to look at, such as £10 on a bottle of Smirnoff.”

Jai Singh, of MJs Local in Sheffield, said: “I’ve got a refit on my store scheduled to finish before 19 July. If all goes to plan, I’ll be able to combine that with the reopening and have a few promotions. Alcohol is normally a good area for this.”

Despite the opportunities, many stores expressed caution at celebrating too soon.

Stores prepare for end of Covid-19 restrictions

Worcestershire Simply Fresh retailer Chaz Chahal said: “I’ll probably keep Covid-19 measures in my store. I want my staff to feel safe in the shop and don’t want to run anything that would make them feel nervous.”

Manchester Spar retailer Baz Jethwa is taking a similar approach. “Maybe we’ll lose sales but the safety of the staff is paramount,” said Jethwa.

Loch Lomond News owner Andrew Howell said masks and other measures would remain mandatory in his store to cut the risk of being forced to self isolate. “We are a small shop and cannot risk having to close,” he said.

On 19 July, prime minister Boris Johnson is set to uncap socialising numbers, make social distancing and mask wearing measures voluntary, scrap work from home guidance and allow nightclubs and other hospitality venues to open at full capacity.

The changes are subject to a final review on 12 July. Restrictions in Scotland are due to lift on 9 August, while Wales will announce its strategy on 15 July.

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