Supermarkets, corner shops, pharmacies and banks have all remained open during the coronavirus lockdown, but only today have outdoor markets and car showrooms been permitted to reopen.
For those itching to thumb through rails of clothes (with, we beg of you, freshly-applied hand sanitiser) you’ll have to wait a couple more weeks, until non-essential stores in England are able to reopen on June 15th.
Unsurprisingly, high street shopping won’t be like it was pre-Covid. As we are not yet post-Covid, there are several measures stores must implement in order to keep their customers safe.
A few weeks ago the rules were simpler. Stay at home. It didn’t matter whether you wanted to meet up in groups of two, six or six hundred, you couldn’t do it.
Inevitably, therefore, bricks and mortar shops were temporarily closed. But with most of us already well-versed in the art of online shopping, once warehouses and deliveries were able to operate safely it was relatively easy to continue shopping and supporting our favourite brands.
Things are slightly more complicated now. With this bizarre sort of soft-launch back into the real world, where we can now socialise in groups of six (providing we keep two metres apart – a crucial disclaimer many seem to have failed to read), it’s not entirely clear whether or not we technically remain ‘in lockdown’.
So what *will* shopping look like once stores re-open? We spoke to three of the UK’s favourite high street shops to find out.
“In accordance with the latest Government guidance, it is our intention to safely re-open our stores in England from Monday 15 June.”
“We will be implementing a comprehensive plan to ensure the health and wellbeing of our employees, customers and communities, including strict procedures to support social distancing, specialist signage, training and operational changes.”
“John Lewis will begin to reopen its shops for customers as part of a gradual approach from Monday 15 June. Depending on the response from customers and Partners to our new ways of operating with respect to social distancing, more shops will open throughout the summer.”
“John Lewis plans initially to open just under a quarter of its shops as part of a steady, gradual approach with rigorous safety and social distancing measures in place. Branches selected to open have been chosen primarily because of their accessibility by car.”
“As John Lewis takes the first steps in reopening its doors for business, a raft of measures will be introduced into its shops drawing from the Partnership’s experience of applying and managing social distancing in its Waitrose supermarkets and from within the delivery and warehousing aspects of its e-commerce businesses.”
- The introduction of a “Customer Service Host” assigned to welcome customers into the store and answer any questions while managing customer numbers, queues both at entrances and busy areas of the shop and explain to customers what changes they might see in store.
- Reducing the number of shop entrances.
- Caps on the number of customers entering stores.
- Prominent social distancing signage.
- Protective screens at checkouts and areas of the shop where 2 metre social distancing cannot be achieved between customers and Partners.
- Control procedures for escalators and lifts limiting the number of users.
- Rigorous and frequent cleaning.
- Provision of hand sanitiser for customers to use at all entrances.
- Social distancing in back of house areas.
- New contactless payment limit of £45.
- Limiting the number of additional customer services – for example close-contact beauty services will not be offered and customer catering outlets and fitting rooms will remain closed until further notice.
- Safe and simple returns process – for example inline with government guidance we are going to separate returned stock from new or old stock for 72 hours.
- In addition, customers will be able to learn more about the measures we are taking in our branches via a short film, which will be hosted on johnlewis.com.
“Depending on customer feedback and how the first phase of openings progress, other initiatives which may be considered include: virtual queueing, returns drop boxes and enabling Click Collect from our branch carparks.”
Branches opening in the first stage are; from Monday 15 June: Kingston and Poole and from Thursday 18 June; Bluewater, Cambridge, Cheadle, Cheltenham, High Wycombe, Horsham, Ipswich, Norwich, Nottingham, Solihull and Welwyn.
“We’re preparing to open the majority of our space on 15th June – we have 260 stores that sell Clothing Food so over the past few weeks they have remained open to help feed the nation, with the majority of clothing space closed off.”
“When you visit M&S to shop clothing you can expect the same robust measures as when you’ve shopped food.”
“Our aim is to help our customers shop with confidence and there will be a number of measures in place including:
- Perspex screens at till points.
- Floor markings to help with social distancing.
- Hand sanitisers by the entrances for customers who may not have theirs on them.
- Fitting rooms will remain closed.
- We’re keeping our refund policy at 90 days.
- We’ve upped our contactless limit from £30 to £45.