INDEPENDENT retailers in Glasgow have spoken of their struggle following the reopening of non-essential shops on Monday - and several even claim their sales have cut dramatically,

The independent retailers told of how they seen a huge dip in sales on their first day back while keen shoppers queued outside Primark in Glasgow from as early as 5.30 am on Monday.

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Some stores also report footfall down by over 75 per cent and express fears over customers unwillingness to touch goods.

Heather Docherty, owner of La Coco Gift in Glasgow’s West End said: “I am a small gift boutique, so a lot of my items are small candles that you want to pick up and smell. People are scared to touch and pick up stuff. They do not know what they are allowed to do.

“I have had five people through my door so far which is not much from what it usually is. I would normally have three or four times that amount. The street is really, really quiet. I jumped into a cafe to get some food and they told me their sales have dropped from £800 to £200.”

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Nancy Stewart, owner of Boudoir, a lingerie shop in Glasgow’s West End, said: “Small shops are struggling and need to be remembered by customers to survive at any time but now more than ever. The extra outlay for protecting customers and in my case stock before we have taken anything after being closed for so long is daunting just trying to work it out.

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“We were optimistic today, but we have had only one customer in. The weather will not have helped but I do not know if everyone is just in the queue for Primark.

“Once you open you stop getting support from the Government so you have to pay your rent but you have no customers. Bills still need to be paid and I think this will be the end for a lot of small independent shops.”

Another business owner, who did not want to be named, said: “A lot of independent stores do not want to open right now. I know of a few shops who have just let their leases expire. There is a percentage of my customers who won’t want to come back to the store or touch anything until a few months till this is all over.”

Some of the retailers, however, hope business picks up.

Soni Ahmed, owner of Maia Gifts, a gift shop in Glasgow City Centre said: “We are expecting it to be quieter today but as the week goes on we expect to see more and more customers come through the door.

“I think it is going to be like a big wave going from the big stores then it will feed down to us. We are hopeful people will have an awakening that in this time period small businesses need them more than ever and they will start to think about where they shop and try and support local where they can.

“That’s not always possible because not everything is available through local independent stores but if they can even do a percentage of their shopping with local independent stores that will make a huge difference.”

Mr Ahmed added that online shopping boomed when the lockdown started but decreased when England started to reopen shops because of the increased competition online.

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Kirsty McQueen, manager at The Glasgow Vintage Company, said: “So far we have made quite a lot from what we usually make in the morning. I think it is a case of whether that will last or if it is a sudden rush for a couple of days then it will be over and people will not be spending again. We are optimistic though.”

David Lonsdale, director of the Scottish Retail Consortium, said: “Much of the time larger and smaller retailers have a symbiotic relationship, relying on each other to thrive and succeed. Sometimes that is through helping to drive footfall to the area or expanding the range and diversity of what is on offer.

“Both are feeling the effects of the volatile marketplace at the moment, with footfall and consumer confidence lower than before the crisis.

“Our town centres and high streets have a great deal to offer and are at their best when offering an eclectic mix of larger and independent stores and indeed hospitality and leisure too. That is why we want to see a firm date for the re-opening of stores in malls, and a concerted effort from every tier of government to rejuvenating Scotland’s high streets.”