'We're SO glad to be back - it's like Christmas, but with masks': As lockdown eases, here's how retailers are coping with the new normal

One-way traffic, hand-sanitiser stations, clothes quarantines and Perspex screens – shopping on the country's high streets looks very different today than it did before lockdown began three months ago. Non-essential retailers are now open for the first time in months, meaning a flurry of behind-the-scenes activity as owners adjust to the 'new normal' – from investing in signage and staff training to redesigning entire stores. Betterdaze, in Northallerton, North Yorkshire, is the country's only combined record shop and juke box showroom and has been run by owner Gary Lewis and his wife, Marie, for the past ten years.  Last week, Gary reopened his shop, packed with 250,000 original vinyl record LPs, singles and 78s from across the decades, and says it has been a moving experience. With social-distancing signs, anti-bacterial spray and separate entrance and exit doors, Gary has made sure the store is a safe place to shop and says it's crucial for shops to get back to business as usual.  Government support was helpful, but Gary stayed clear of the loans on offer. 'I managed to build my business up without owing a penny to anyone,' he says.  'What has helped is flexibility from my landlord while the shop was closed. Graphic designer Sidonie Warren set up her boutique stationery shop, Papersmiths, with her business partner, Kyle, in 2013. 'We spent around £1,000 on fun signs showing the shop's 'house rules', such as the number of people allowed in and the two-metre distancing requirement,' says Sidonie.  'It was totally worth it to be able to reopen and trade safely, and I stocked up on extra signs in case the rules change again.' '  Sidonie kept the business going during lockdown by selling online and is also now doing click and collect, but turnover still fell by 95 per cent.  'It'll take a year for us to make up for lost trade, but our suppliers have been incredibly supportive,' she says. But then customers started contacting us on Facebook and Instagram with order requests and before long I was spending five hours a day doing deliveries. 'As a sports retailer, March is the month when we get in the biggest amount of stock ahead of summer,' says Dave. The shop has social distancing, strict hygiene rules and extra outside space thanks to some artificial grass and a gazebo – so customers can try on sports shoes outside if they want to. '  Cricketing stock will now be saved until next year, with the result that running shoes and tennis racquets have become the mainstay of sales. Founded 92 years ago, East Anglian independent retailer Coes kept trading throughout the Second World War, but it was forced to shut in March thanks to coronavirus.  Its five stores are now open again and according to chief executive William Coe – grandson of the founder – 'our customers are delighted to see us and we are delighted to see them'.  The biggest effort in re-opening was to reconfigure all the stores to allow for safe and comfortable browsing, but it was worth it, says William. Even now the stores are open again, some departments are still hit hard, such as formal wear – thanks to events such as Royal Ascot being held behind closed doors, and the cancellation of weddings, balls and summer proms.