At Anthropologie in Chelsea, staff and customers are on a high, says store manager Noel Anderson. “We’ve steamed spring dresses, set out cheerful picnic tables and built larger than life flower displays — everything for a fresh and inspiring environment.”
Filling the window are folksy ceramics, hand-painted by local artist Francesca Kaye — she’s in the store until May 9.
Yes, the shops are finally open again and we can max out on “non-essentials”.
Just off Oxford Street, Robert Hasty has personally painted out Ligne Roset, and has 15 per cent off new orders for this chic French brand at 23-25 Mortimer Street, W1.
Heal’s has a similar offer starting this week. Check out the big furnishing chains — many have offers up to half price until the end of the month.
What can you do in the shops under Covid restrictions?
But a “new normal” way of shopping is somewhat sapping the fun. Masks and hand sanitiser are, of course, de rigueur. Numbers are limited — not a problem with big stores, but punishing for little boutiques like the Pooky lighting specialist in Chelsea, only three people in at once.
Elsewhere you can usually try out a sofa or bed with gloves or over a plastic sheet, but are encouraged by and large not to touch or even browse.
Lockdown has made shops invent new ways to keep in contact, such as live chat, video calls and remote interior design. People have loved this, so there’s a new virtual/real hybrid way of shopping.
Online sales have kept many afloat. “But we’ve so missed our regular customers,” says Rachel Wythe-Moran, co-owner of cult homeware store Labour & Wait, which is celebrating 21 years on Redchurch Street this year — “watch out for specials and a party”.
SCP in Shoreditch is an established favourite with design buffs. But now you’ll have to make an appointment for a serious purchase such as furniture or lighting. All the small goodies will be online (scp.co.uk).
Which interiors shops have closed in Covid lockdown?
Some have not survived — about one fifth of Oxford Street is boarded up, notably Debenhams and Top Shop.
But, after store closures elsewhere, John Lewis is toughing it out at its flagship — “for the joy of physical shopping”, says executive director Pippa Wicks. Unveiled this week is its Anyday label with masses of new stuff for home, tech and babies, coming in at 20 per cent cheaper than usual John Lewis prices.
Others have simply shut up shop. Zoe Anderson, selling “dopamine for the home” from her quirky Shoreditch home store W.A.Green, is now totally online but plans pop-ups and personal consultations.
Interiors events and sales in London
Brands are also greening up the scene. Selfridges has a spring theme of “good nature” filling 20 windows with flowers, topiary and even gnomes. It’s part of “project Earth”, its wider commitment to sustainability.
East London’s cactus queen Gynelle Leon will be reopening her shop, Prick, on Saturday, signing copies of her new book, Plant, £15. “We’ve so missed our plant community.” It starts with a sale (492 Kingsland Road, E8).
Now reopened is Eastern Biological on Hackney Road, with its books, papers and artefacts expressing the devotion to natural history of its owner, Alfred Addis. “I’m just loving seeing people again,” he says. Also check out The Home of Sustainable Things (53 Barnsbury Street, N1).