SHOPPERS returned to Cwmbran and Pontypool town centres today as non-essential retailers were allowed to reopen for the first time since before Christmas.

In Cwmbran, queues for Primark spanned hundreds of metres, starting along the front and side of the store, into the car park, along the edge of the car park, and doubling back to the car park entrance.

There were also queues - although nowhere near as lengthy - outside JD, Sports Direct, Clarks, and River Island as shoppers looked to pick up items deemed non-essential during the winter lockdown.


Christie Curran (below), from The Entertainer, in Cwmbran, said: “It’s super exciting having all our regular customers back and seeing all the children back.

“It’s been a real buzz already. It feels more exciting this time.

South Wales Argus: Christie Curran from The Entertainer in Cwmbran.Christie Curran from The Entertainer in Cwmbran.

“We’ve tried to bring a party atmosphere to the store. You want [the children] to remember the store as a fun place to come.

“We’re super excited to be back and welcoming new and old customers. It’s very exciting.”

Alisa Jones, manager of Cwmbran Fancy Dress, said: “It’s great to be open again and seeing customers. You miss seeing the customers and speaking to them.

South Wales Argus: Cwmbran Fancy Dress in Cwmbran CentreCwmbran Fancy Dress in Cwmbran Centre

“We’ve been tidying the shop and getting it all ready for the last few weeks. We are happy to welcome customers back.

“It’s also nice to see so many people walking past [compared to how quiet the centre has been through lockdown].”

A Cwmbran Centre spokesperson said: “A great deal of effort has gone into making Cwmbran Centre a safe place for staff and customers.

“Everyone has a part to play in this, and we’d ask you all to be respectful of others and follow the latest Government guidelines as closely as possible at all times when visiting the centre.”

South Wales Argus:

South Wales Argus: Queues for Primark in Cwmbran went as far back as the centre's car park.Queues for Primark in Cwmbran went as far back as the centre's car park.

A number of measures remain in place to ensure shoppers can remain safe when visiting the centre - including lanes on walkways, markers for queuing in a socially distanced manner, and closing off every other seat on benches in the centre.

Ahead of the reopening, a centre spokesperson said: "We will be continuing to follow Government guidelines beyond April 12 to keep staff and visitors at Cwmbran Centre safe, and to support the national efforts to limit the spread of Covid-19.”

Traders in Pontypool Indoor Market said they felt "cheered" to see the number of people visiting the town centre as businesses reopened.

South Wales Argus: Sean Phipps and Sian Aubrey at Canal Curiosities in PontypoolSean Phipps and Sian Aubrey at Canal Curiosities in Pontypool

Sean Phipps, from Canal Curiosities, said: “It’s been brilliant. Though it has been hard.

“It’s quiet at the moment (around midday), but there were loads of customers in earlier.

“There are still a few rules we’ve got to follow and the public still have the rules they have to follow, so there is still some people who will be scared to come in and have a look around.”

While Sian Aubrey, also from Canal Curiosities, said: “It’s our first year in business. We opened last March and had three or four weeks trading and that was it. But we managed to keep going and it’s lovely to be back.

“We didn’t expect many people to come in. I’ve been quite cheered by the beginning of the day.”

South Wales Argus: Chris Green and Bethan Smith at The Market Garden in Pontypool Indoor Market.Chris Green and Bethan Smith at The Market Garden in Pontypool Indoor Market.

Bethan Smith, from The Market Garden florists (above) in the Indoor Market, said: “It’s good [to be able to reopen]. We’ve missed it.

“We’ve had so much time off over the last year. It’s been crippling.

“The worst thing was the timing before Christmas. The day [Mark Drakeford] shut us down, we had just ordered a few grands worth of stock [in time for Christmas].

“We’ve lost Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, and Easter this year.

“I hope people will come back. It’s nice to see our customers return.”