There was a sense of relief in County Derry on Friday when non-essential retailers were finally permitted to open their doors after the NI Executive further eased Covid-19 restrictions.
Footfall was still significantly down on pre-Covid-19 levels, but retailers were delighted to be able to welcome customers back through their doors.
A spokesperson for Magherafelt Chamber of Commerce welcomed the return for retail.
"The Magherafelt Chamber of Commerce welcomes the decision by the NI Executive to reopen all non-essential goods retailers in Northern Ireland from Friday 12th June.
"Shopping local has never been so important and we urge the public to support our retailers and businesses in Magherafelt.
“With their help and support our resilient businesses will get through this and our town will be thriving again."
Joe Chapman, manager of Timpson’s in the town, said the return to normality was a welcome development.
“It’s great to be back, it’ll be nice to see some customers coming back in and things getting back to normal,” he told the County Derry Post.
“It’s been a difficult enough couple of months and a lot of our customers will be looking forward to getting back in and getting things fixed and mended.
“We had a lot of things set up already like the distance signing and the hand sanitiser all ready for today.”
Retailers in shopping centres had less than twenty-four hours to prepare after Thursday afternoon’s announcement, but even off-street retailers found it a bit of a rush.
Marian Quigg, of Four Seasons Boutique, said Monday’s announcement took her by some surprise.
“I was driving home and when it came on the radio, I nearly crashed my car! It certainly was a rush when we heard the announcement,” she said.
“I’m delighted to be back though – a bit nervous this morning, but I’m glad to be back. It’s been a long 12 weeks.
“We got it done, we’re here and we’re open. It’s nice to have people coming in and out again and getting that interaction with our customers.”
While glad to be back, some retailers admitted they were glad to get a bit of a break. Eileen Nicolls, of Nicolls’ Menswear, said she had been making the most of it.
“I enjoyed it when the shop was closed because I live out in the country, and the weather has been good,” she said.
“I enjoyed the time off, but I knew it was coming so I’m happy enough to be back. I knew we would be open over the next few weeks, so I had all prepared.”
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