RETAILERS in Torfaen enjoyed a rather understated re-opening after shops across Wales were given the green light to open their doors to customers.

First Minister Mark Drakeford praised Welsh shoppers for their "sensible" approach to shops re-opening, and that was evident across both Cwmbran and Pontypool, where only a handful of shoppers were out and about.

Customers at the Cwmbran Centre are encouraged to stick to the left side of the path with signs painted on the floor, and every shop has markers painted outside two metres apart for people to queue.


Other than at banks - which have remained open throughout lockdown - the only queue forming was outside River Island, where customers were greeted at the door by a member of staff in PPE and asked to use hand sanitiser upon entering.

South Wales Argus:

Queues at River Island in Cwmbran.

Some of the large retailers in the centre, including Primark and Claire's Accessories, are yet to open.

Christie Curran, manager of The Entertainer in Cwmbran, outlined the steps they had taken to re-open.

“We’ve implemented two-metre social distancing tape inside, we have a sneeze screen at the tills, and disinfectants for customers to wash their hands at the doors and to use for the baskets,” she said.

“Customers who click and collect have the option to wait outside and we can get their order for them.”

South Wales Argus:

Christie Curran, manager of The Entertainer in Cwmbran.

Ms Curran said the morning was on par with what they were expecting.

“We expected probably about what it has been,” she said. “It will be a bit of a mix when people come into town with different shops opening on different days.

“It’s exciting [to re-open]. It’s been a long three months and it’s nice to welcome our customers back and see our regular customers again.”

South Wales Argus:

Commercial Street in Pontypool.

In Pontypool, Commercial Street was quiet, with just one queue forming outside Wilko. The homeware retailer has been open for a number of weeks.

Allun and Nichola Davies opened the doors to Ragamuffins Emporium for the first time since lockdown.

“We were apprehensive. We didn’t know whether we were going to have people queuing, or not have anyone here at all,” said Mr Davies.

“We’ve had a few in browsing and a few collecting orders,” Mrs Davies added.

South Wales Argus:

Nichola and Allun Davies, owners of Ragamuffins.

The couple had taken their whole business online over lockdown, which was “quite a challenge” as they had to photograph and log the details of all the items available from the Emporium's 33 traders.

Aware that many people are still either not able to shop in person, or would prefer to err on the side of caution, Mr and Mrs Davies have set up dedicated time slots for private shopping.

“It’s about taking that stress away, as people can feel uncomfortable if other people aren’t sticking to social distancing,” said Mrs Davies.

“It’s nice to be able to give people who are feeling nervous about that a chance to shop too.”

South Wales Argus:

The Pontypool Indoor Market remains closed.

The Pontypool Indoor Market re-opens on Thursday.