As non-essential stores begin to open again from 15th June, retailers including The Entertainer detail how they plan to run their premises.
Although the UK government has said non-essential retail can re-open, shops must ensure measures are put in place to manage staff, stock and customers safely. Shoppers will be obliged to get used to new ways of shopping and closed changing rooms, one-way systems on the shop floor and restrictions on touching merchandise are set to become the new normal.
Following the example of supermarkets, DIY chains and furniture retailers, obvious initial adjustments include limiting the number of shoppers with queue systems as well as installing plastic screens and supplying face masks to staff. However, new government requirements will add to these precautions, including quarantining goods that have been returned for up to 72 hours before they can be put back on the shop floor.
John Lewis has announced that the chain will reopen in phases, so that safety procedures can be tested and refined on an ongoing basis. Department stores will operate with closed changing rooms and strict limits on the number of customers able to enter or use lifts and escalators. Cafes and services such as makeup demonstrations will remain closed. There will be more rigorous and frequent cleaning, a reduced number of entrances, prominent social distancing signage and protective screens at checkouts.
A spokesperson said: “The safety of our customers and partners will govern everything we do, and we are prepared to readjust our plan and make changes as we go to make sure we get it absolutely right.” The company has not yet confirmed how many of its stores will re-open on June 15th.
Although obliged to follow government guidelines, which also include encouraging customers to shop alone and staggering opening times, each retailer will also introduce its own measures, fine tuned to the type of store and the merchandise on offer. Waterstones has said that all books browsed by shoppers will be put to one side for 72 hours before going back on sale, and Asda has set up a virtual queueing system via a phone app. Aldi will use a traffic light system which will only open the main doors to customers when there is enough space inside.
As previously reported, The Entertainer is setting up queue systems and offering click-and-collect online ordering. Demonstrations and character visits have been put on hold. Owner Gary Grant told The Guardian that he is disappointed not to be able to open on 1st June, as the government had previously indicated might be the case, however shared that the group has been able to draw on the experiences of its franchise outlets overseas and stores in Jersey and the Isle of Man, which are now open. As lockdown has eased in these locations, the company has found that shoppers were keen to return. High volumes of online sales have also shown the company that demand for toys remains high, with educational, craft and garden toys particularly sought after.