As more people venture out, high streets wrestle with 1.5 metre shopping
Dutch shop owners are wrestling with how to cope with the 1.5 metre society but a lack of official guidelines, plus the narrowness of many high streets, are causing problems.
One-way systems, walking routes and a limit on numbers or time slots are some of options which could be used to make sure people don’t get too close to each other, according to the Dutch retailers’ association Detailhandel Nederland.
Last weekend, mayors in some towns and cities urged people to stay home because it was becoming too busy – particularly in city centres with narrow streets and passageways.
‘An increasing number of shops are opening and people are easier about going outside,’ Detailhandel director Hester Duursema told the AD. ‘So we and the government have to make agreements about how to organise the 1.5 metre society in shopping streets. The shops are well organised inside, but outside nothing has been agreed.’
Hubert Bruls of chairman of the national safety congress, told the AD that local authorities need to work with local retail associations to develop a tailor-made approach because what might work in Breda would not work in Rotterdam.
‘Most people don’t visit different shopping areas, so if a local authority is clear about the rules, consumers will adapt quickly, he said.
Pauline Buurma, who runs the Kalverstraat in central Amsterdam, says she is looking at placing hearts on the pavements to indicate which direction people should walk in – as has been done in Zutphen.
In Rotterdam, efforts are also being made to develop a logical walking route through the Koopgoot, the below street level shopping area under the Coolsingel.
Meanwhile, retail property advisor RMC has published figures illustrating how shopping areas are becoming busier.
Last week, the main areas, which are monitored by counting wifi signals, were 7.2% busier than they were the week before. And the Kalverstraat in Amsterdam was 40% busier than in the previous week.
‘But this does not mean streets are getting super busy. Numbers are still down 80% on a year ago,’ RMC said.
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