Dozens of outlets have closed at Stoke-on-Trent’s main shopping centre after being hit by the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
It comes as intu bosses have scrapped Thursday late-night shopping and allowed branches to set their own opening times in response to the pandemic.
Big-name operators Nando’s and Costa Coffee yesterday became the latest national chains to shut.
But centre bosses have stressed that the building itself remains open. It comes as Cineworld has also shut at The Hive, which is also operated by intu.
An intu Potteries spokesman said: “We know that Costa and Nando’s have taken the precautionary decision to temporarily close their stores, as part of their response to coronavirus.
“As part of that decision we understand that Costa and Nando’s at intu Potteries will close until further notice. We continue to liaise closely with them and are in regular contact.
“In line with Government and Public Health England guidance, intu Potteries is open as usual. However, some brands in our centre have taken the precautionary decision to temporarily close, as part of their responses to coronavirus.
“As individual opening times may vary, please check with the store before setting off.
Stores with their shutters down yesterday morning included:
- Virgin Holidays;
- Ruff & Ruby;
- Miss Selfridge;
- Dorothy Perkins;
- The Watch Lab;
- Millie’s Cookies
Next also confirmed they had closed their store from Monday evening.
Shoppers cannot believe the impact of coronavirus on our shopping habits in just the past week.
Staffordshire University student Emma Lloyd, aged 20, said: “I agree with the closures because the people working in retail need to put their own health first.
“It’s all come as a massive shock and I never really expected any of this to happen.
“When the shops started shutting, it became real – the city centre is like an actual ghost town, but for now that’s a good thing.
“Those working in supermarkets and risking their health need a huge thank you though.”
Molly Jones, aged 23, of Tunstall, said: “It is really sad to see that so many stores have closed but obviously it is for a good reason – to contain the virus.
“It makes you realise that you take shopping with your friends – and normality in general – for granted.”
Abbie Mannion, aged 23, of Tunstall, said: “I can’t believe that they have shut so many stores but I suppose it is an important step to take to help people with social distancing and control the spread of germs.
“I just hope that workers at Intu have been able to have some kind of pay because a lot of people are now out of jobs and will be struggling.”
Tori Wetton, aged 23, of Bucknall, said: “It’s really good that the shops have closed. I work in retail and know how busy it can get and how many germs are easily spread from person to person.
“If we want to contain the virus and stop the spread then action like this needs to be taken.”
Becky Simpson, aged 21, of Birches Head, said: “It is good that the shops are taking it seriously. The longer they hold off from closing, the more people will be affected by coronavirus.”
Alban Hampton, aged 23, of Bucknall, added: “It’s a shame for the workers of the shops but at the end of the day we should take coronavirus seriously and take all the necessary precautions to keep people safe.”