WEST Somerset’s retailers have been able to welcome back shoppers for the first time since the start of lockdown this week.

Residents headed back into town to make purchases from non-essential retailers able to open their doors for the first time in three months.

It has been a difficult period, with an area so reliant on tourism already missing a large chunk of the busiest season, but there was certainly cautious optimism among traders and customers on Monday that this was a big step in the right direction.

Manager of Minehead BID Andrew Hopkins said he had been hugely impressed at the way retailers had adapted to the challenges presented by the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Minehead’s traders have been fantastic, implementing the various measures from hand sanitation, to queuing systems, to some businesses opening by appointment only, so that customers can feel safe coming back into town,” Mr Hopkins said.

“There are understandably still a lot of people who are cautious about coming out and many who are still shielding.

“Footfall figures were good but significantly down compared to pre-lockdown numbers in March.”

So far in Minehead around 120 business have been able to re-open, but Mr Hopkins said there were still between 60 and 70 patiently waiting for the green light to allow them to open again.

“The atmosphere in town was very positive with both traders and customers on Monday,” Mr Hopkins said.

“With the wide pavements and various measures being taken by the traders, I am confident Minehead can handle an increase in footfall and we should be encouraging people back into town and supporting our local businesses.”

Retailers in Watchet, Williton, Porlock and Dunster have also been welcoming back shoppers for the first time.