It was a quiet morning at Dundrum Town Centre while shoppers at Kildare Village walked through a thermal scanner on entry for the first day of reopening
It was ‘business as unusual’ as shoppers came back to the Dundrum Town Centre in Dublin today following Covid-19 lockdown.
After a busy start things settled into an air of relaxed calm and there were no queues visible outside shops by 11.30am.
The car park had a huge number of available spaces, and the first visible sign that there had been a shutdown at all was a fine layer of dust on two spotlit Hyundai cars that are being promoted at a marketing stand in the car park.
With hand sanitiser dispensers at the lifts and in the shops, and guidance on pedestrian traffic flow and social distancing, the popular centre was settling into life in what has now become known as ‘the new normal’.
Shoppers are now used to longer queues at checkouts, face masks and card payments, and talking to staff through perspex screens.
“We’re glad to be back, we’ve really missed it,” said Naoise Lawlor (28) from Firhouse, who was shopping with her daughter Larragh (5) and friends Orlagh Carty (28) and Katie Blanche (22).
Naoise and Orlagh said they are usually in the centre nearly every day. Clutching take-away Butler’s coffees they had been shopping in Zara.
“We haven’t had to queue anywhere, to be honest we thought there would be more people here. It’s quite quiet,” said Orlagh.
Christie Forbes, the store director at Zara, said she too thought there would be more shoppers as the centre opened up again.
“People are being cautious I think. They are asking about facemasks and things. Maybe people are waiting until the weekend to come out here and we will see numbers then,” she added.
“Our summer collection is in Sale at the moment and there is a big demand for it. It’s great to be back,” said Christine.
Another trader glad to be back behind the counter was David Roberts, manager at Weir & Sons.
“We had initially been told it would be August 10 before we could open, but that date got moved back and we are delighted,” he said.
“There was hard work going on in the background, and our online shop was doing very well. When we opened at 10.30 am there were a good few people in to us buying batteries and collecting items left in for repair or adjustment,” he added.
David said that any items of jewelry handled by shoppers is sanitised or steam cleaned afterwards, and customers are asked to use the in-store hand sanitiser when they enter the shop.
Brother and sister Warren and Zara Egan, from Firhouse, were in the centre to catch up on some retail therapy. Zara turned 21 last week so older brother Warren (23) was out to treat her.
“There were so many vacant spaces in the car park I wondered was the centre open at all,” said Warren.
“We thought that it would be busier, but it’s good to be back, we’ve missed it,” said Zara.
Centre Director Dan Nugent was walking the centre to monitor how all the new procedures and protocols were bedding-in.
“We’re happy to let people settle in, and it will take a while for people to get their confidence back, including the retailers themselves,” he said, adding that if a lot of people turned up it might have made people feel wary.
“We have noticed that the people that are here are here to shop, not browse, and we are letting the retailers decide when to open. The staggered days they open will mean a gradual return to the new normal, and give us time to tweak our systems. Health and safety is the most important issue,” he added.
Meanwhile, sports brands saw lots of love when the Kildare Village discount destination reopened today.
There was marked interest in sporty, leisure brands like Asics, North Face, Puma, Nike and New Balance.
At the other end of the market, luxury Italian designer brand Prada was like a honeypot for the fashion brigade.
Hardcore fans of the luxury shopping destination had left nothing to chance and booked priority parking to ensure spaces this morning.
On arrival, shoppers today passed through a mini marquee with a thermal scanner which looks like a camera on a tripod. Visitors and boutique staff had their temperature checked, which had to be below 37.5 to gain access.
Once inside, customers today could shop at some stores by joining a 'virtual queue' outside shops after which they received a text and could track the waiting time.
Prada operated a 'leave your number' listing service and customers received a call to go back to shop with only six customers in the shop at any one time.
The measures are designed to limit physical queues in the centre. It was hard not to notice the zeal of some mums getting their kids into Clarks for new shoes.
There were eight food outlets open and to save on queues, customers used QR scanners to read the menu.