The centre manager at one of Swindon’s iconic shopping centres has revealed what it was like having to cope through the Coronavirus pandemic.
During 2020 and 2021, the UK economy was forced into lockdown as Covid cases reached an unprecedented level, nearly overwhelming the NHS.
As a result, shopping centres such as the Designer Outlet centre were forced to close their doors until cases had dropped.
Now Tina Cumpstey, who is in charge of the shopping centre, has looked back on the troubling days, nearly two and a half years after the first lockdown.
“It was surreal, being told to close a shopping centre is something you would never believe would happen,” she said.
“As soon as we closed the centre as a business, we were then planning the reopening and working with our brands, keeping that communication was unique for a retailer to have to deal with.
“And then reopening, keeping our guests safe, and working with the brands to control capacity was incredibly difficult.
“But it was very rewarding seeing people coming back and to see people enjoying that social interaction.”
2022 is the first full year where there have been no Covid restrictions imposed by the UK government.
Despite Covid still being part of everyday life, society is getting on as normal with big events taking place this year.
It will be the first Christmas where no restrictions will be imposed by any of the UK nations.
The Outlet Centre is planning to bring back the traditions that they have not been able to stage since 2019.
Tina said: “We are in our golden quarter, Christmas is a big deal and we are so excited.
“This week our Christmas Tree arrives and our Christmas decorations will be going up overnight this week.
“We will be running a free immersive Santa workshop from December 1 and we’ll be having Christmas markets are the front of the store.
“So, all of those interactions that we weren’t able to do, we’re bringing back this year.”
Two new stores are set to open at the Outlet Centre in time for the festive season.
Officials have confirmed that Carvela will open its doors to customers in the West Mall area next to Polo Ralph.
Back in October, the Outlet Centre announced that a Haribo store is set to open in another part of the building.
This will be the ninth brick-and-mortar branch for the popular sweets manufacturer which is loved by kids and grown-ups alike – and promises to include the biggest pick ‘n’ mix section of them all.
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