TODAY many businesses opened their doors for the first time this year.

It's been almost four months since businesses in Wales deemed 'non-essential' were forced to close their doors in an attempt to slow the spread of coronavirus.

Today (April 12) many businesses in Barry and across Wales welcomed customers into their stores for the first time in 2021. Coronavirus safety measures have been implemented, including face coverings (unless exempt), one-way systems, social distancing, and sanitizer stations.

In some part of Wales big brands - such as Primark and Debenhams - had large queues of people throughout the day, desperate for some retail therapy.

Barry's High Street is more focused on independent businesses - although there are some big brands on Holton Road - with local traders saying it was 'lovely' to welcome people back into their stores, adding that they'd had a 'steady' flow of customers throughout the day.

Jill Mathews owns Giggles – a shop selling toys and gifts for children – and had been operating on a click and collect basis during lockdown, but was pleased to welcome people back into her store.

Jill Mathews owns Giggles

Jill Mathews owns Giggles

Ms Mathews, whose friend Sue helped her prep for the big day, said: “It’s been so nice to see people and welcome in some of our old customers.

“Some people have just come to say hi and to chat. They’ve all been happy and lovely; it’s nice to be part of the community.

“One lady said she feels safer because there’s not too many people in the shop. I think people - especially older people - feel safer coming out here and it's been really lovely."

To avoid overcrowding in the shop there's a maximum of four customers allowed in-store at the same time.

Clothes shops in Wales - including Bryl's Boutique on Barry's High Street - welcomed customers back into their shops today.

“Lockdown has been quite difficult,” said Ann Bryl, who owns Bryl's Boutique.

“But re-opening has been good; there were people waiting for us to open this morning and it's been nice to see our customers.

“Business has been nice and steady, with a lovely atmosphere. Lots of people have said they feel safer here than in big supermarkets where people may pass you in the aisles.

Bryls Boutique in Barry

Bryl's Boutique in Barry

Bryl’s Boutique requires customers to wear face coverings (unless exempt), with sanitizer at the entrance, and all their clothes are steam cleaned.

Fay Blakeley, who owns bespoke gift shop Made in Wales, also had a ‘steady’ stream of customers come in store today.

Ms Blakeley said: “It’s been so lovely to see people and business has been steady today.

“Barry is a town of independents; people support us locally and you can find something different.”

Fay Blakeley of Homemade Wales in Barry

Fay Blakeley of Homemade Wales in Barry

She added that, due to the coronavirus pandemic, many businesses have adapted to online but that ensuring customers feel comfortable is a priority for her.

Sanitizer is available at the shop entrance, with staff ensuring that customers use it, socially distance, and avoid overcrowding the shop.