For the first time in almost three months, non-essential shops in England were allowed to reopen on Monday (15 Jun), which saw lengthy shopping queues appear outside the likes of Primark.
The discount fashion retailer, which is owned by Associated British Foods, has suffered during lockdown with no online presence and opened many stores early to try to limit overcrowding, with reports suggesting an hour wait to get into the Leeds store on Monday afternoon.
The government has been eager to encourage people to go out and spend, in an effort to restart the economy, with the British Retail Consortium estimating that the lockdown measures that came into force on 23 March have cost non-food stores roughly £1.8bn a week in lost revenues.
However, while shops in England are allowed to reopen, along with outdoor attractions such as zoos and safari parks, shops in Wales and Scotland are awaiting further instructions, while shops in Northern Ireland were the first to open their doors last Friday (12 Jun).
Some bigger names, such as Primark reopened all 153 stores in England, while M&S, which has an online business and food halls, opened most of its clothing sections. However, John Lewis only opened two sites and many smaller independent stores were reported to have remained closed while they work to implement social distancing measures.
Meanwhile, the latest data from the Office of National Statistics on Tuesday (16 Jun) revealed the number of workers on UK payrolls fell by more than 600,000 between March and May.
Even so, the unemployment rate remained steady at 3.9% helped by the government’s furlough scheme to protect jobs, which is set to remain in place until October 2020.