Shopkeepers talk trade after Newham high streets reopening

Butcher's shop cuts on display

Shopkeepers in Newham have welcomed the easing of lockdown restrictions but some say consumer confidence has some way to go. - Credit: Mayowa Soluade

Shopkeepers in Newham have welcomed the reopening of high streets but say consumer confidence is taking time to grow.

It has been two weeks since April 12, when shops, pub gardens, pavement cafés and hairdressers reopened as the government eased England's third lockdown. 

Business owners from around Newham have shared their thoughts with the Recorder about what it feels like to be back.

Gary Wrench B&R Butchers

Gary Wrench from G&R Butchers. - Credit: Greg Caballero

Gary Wrench owns G&R Butchers in Stephen's Road in Plaistow, which has been serving the community for 31 years.

Asked how it felt to see high streets open again, he said: "We need to get back to normal. It’s good to see. A lot of people haven’t got the confidence. It will take a while but we’ll get there.

"It’s strange really. There’s still a bit of anxiety - you’ve only got to remember here, not that long back, all those ambulances racing up and down the street.

"A lot of my customers work in hospitals. They were really stressed, but it’s getting there."

Zoltan Chimey and Nikolett Vorosmarty

L-R: Zoltan Chimey and Nikolett Vorosmarty tempt passersby with chimney cake, an eastern European sweet. - Credit: Binal Patel

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Nikolett Vorosmarty runs Chimney Cake Paradise at Stratford Outdoor Market, where the stall has tempted shoppers with its cinnamon, walnut, cocoa and vanilla bakes for four years.

"Returning to the market feels awesome as I really missed the rush, my customers and all the feelings the job could give you.

"It seems people are getting more free than before, enjoying the sunshine, the crowd and all the things they have missed during the lockdown," Nikolett said.

Balinder Kaur

Balinder Kaur behind the counter at The Girl of Sandwich in Albert Road, Royal Docks. - Credit: Dionne Lynch

Balinder Kaur has owned The Girl of Sandwich in Albert Road, Royal Docks, for about 15 years.

The sandwich shop closed for the first lockdown, but stayed open for the second and third.

"Trade is slower than usual as people work from home and less people are on the road. I am gradually seeing more old faces returning.

"Whether it will return to normal remains to be seen. I am looking forward to all the shops reopening," she said.

ben sewell

Ben Sewell outside Sewell's florists in Plaistow. The family run business has been serving the community since 1938. - Credit: Bea Erdelyszky

The shopkeepers have been captured on camera by a group of photographers in a project for Newham heritage month.

Nine volunteers met with Newham photographer Keith Martin and heritage expert Jan Cullen to explore their neighbourhoods and capture life after lockdown.

This year's heritage month in May takes the theme shops, docks and factories – Newham’s urban heritage.