BY TARA O’CONNOR Local Democracy Reporter
Parents faced queues of up to four hours as they raced to get new uniforms ahead of schools reopening next week.
One parent, who asked not to be named, was on her way to line up for the fourth day at Hewitts of Croydon to try and get new uniform for her 12-year-old daughter.
After waiting for more than three hours and spending £40 for parking three days in a row, the mum was not able to make it into the shop.
She described the situation as absolutely shocking. Martin Hewitt, owner of the Church Road shop, said he and 35 members of staff are working flat out to meet the surge in demand.
He told us that staff are now not taking long breaks, but social distancing measures mean that just 10 customers can be in the shop at any time, as opposed to the usual 40.
It also means staff cannot measure children for uniforms and if someone returns an item it has to be quarantined for 48 hours.
Usually some of the parents would have been able to buy new uniforms at the 80 schools Hewitts provides for, but due to the lockdown and schools being closed this couldn’t happen.
Mr Hewitt said: “I’ve got a local security company come down with their staff, they are out controlling the queue.
“Near the end of the queue you’re looking at a four-hour wait.
“We’re warning some people at the end that once they’re in the queue it is unlikely they will get in the shop.
“There is no shortcut, if I could think of any way to serve all these customers I would.
“Some are saying we should open 24 hours but the staff are exhausted, we shut at 5pm and by the time all the customers are gone it’s 6.30pm.
“It is the sheer volume of customers, there is nothing we can do about it unfortunately – the rules mean we are limited how we serve them.”
The shop owner added that if parents do not urgently need items of uniform they should wait until term starts.
Pictured: The long queue to get to Hewitts of Croydon
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