When non-essential shops reopen on 15th June: what changes are we expecting?
The announcements made by Boris Johnson at the end of May were perhaps the most far reaching to date. Amongst them, the news that those retailers deemed ‘non-essential’ could reopen their doors on 15th June 2020.
No doubt welcome news to business owners but what measures will they be implementing to keep their staff and customers safe from Covid-19?
Readjusting the wheel, not reinventing it
Although these non-essential stores are reopening their doors on 15th June, supermarkets and DIY retailers have been open throughout the lockdown period.
As such retail owners aren’t really starting from a blank canvas when considering what measures to put in place.
After an initial deep clean to make the space suitable for human occupation, common adaptations that have so quickly become part of our everyday lives: the 2 metre distance* markings on the floor, the clear plastic screens at the checkouts, the one-way systems around the store, sanitisation stations, and more frequent cleaning regimes etc. will readily transfer into almost any retail environment.
Careful planning into the reconfiguration of their premises to accommodate these systems might however present the first significant challenge.
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In accordance with social distancing rules at present, where practically possible, each person in the store will always need to be 2 metres* apart. When you factor in merchandise, display units, and only one route around the shop, the available space might become rather tight.
Marks & Spencer and Ikea have already said that they will impose restrictions on the numbers of customers entering their stores and we can expect to see very tight controls on the amount of people allowed in the shop at any given time across the board.
Perhaps the one-in-one-out policy that we’ve seen from smaller retailers during lockdown, would be adopted at entrances to shops and shopping centres.
As everyone else will have to wait their turn outside the store (socially distanced of course), this presents an issue for passing foot traffic.
Councils such as Cardiff City are considering extending pavements and removing pavement furniture to help pedestrians stay the 2 metre* distance away from the people queuing to get into shops.
It may also be worthy of note that there is increasing pressure to move from the 2 metre* separation to a 1 metre gap, which mirrors the guidance from WHO and the approach adopted by other countries.
The calls to adopt this change are currently loudest from the hospitality and leisure sectors, and would almost certainly be welcomed by those retailers struggling for floor space.
Clarification on this matter may well be forthcoming from the government before the 15th June.
Could technology provide an answer to the issue of street overcrowding outside stores in the form of virtual queuing?
If you’ve ever visited Disney World on a peak day or walked into a restaurant without a reservation on a Saturday evening and been handed a buzzer, you’ve probably already been part of a virtual queue.
How does it work?
Well, instead of customers waiting in long queues, they would be given their position in a virtual queue and alongside a wait time estimate.
Depending on the sophistication of the system, they might be able to track their position in the queue in real-time on a mobile phone app. This way, the customer can run other errands or visit different stores whilst they wait their turn.
Supermarket giant Asda has already launched such a system. Customers login to the queue via their mobile phone and wait in their cars to enter stores.
Will my temperature be checked?
Many businesses that have returned to work following the easing of lockdown measures have mandating temperature checking for their employees (Novus have done this on their construction sites already)
Whilst retailers are set to implement the same controls on their workforce, are some even considering testing customers before allowing them to enter their premises?
The answer is yes.
Two weeks ago (at time of writing), global technology giant Apple became the first major retailer in America to require customers to have their temperature checked before entry and it is reported that other retailers are considering the move.
With the 15th June reopening date fast approaching, it remains to be seen whether UK retailers will opt to include this in their own covid-secure safeguards.
Click and collect
Of course, online shopping and click & collect has been on the rise for some time before the Covid-19 outbreak.
And, there is a feeling that this method of shopping might see an increase as consumers might opt for click and collect to reduce their potential exposure to Covid-19.
For this method to be a safe and appealing option to the customer, there would need to be a contactless way of collecting their items without having to wait in line.
This might therefore see increased usage of facilities such as the Amazon locker either outside the store or with a separate entrance.
Don’t try before you buy
In the interest of getting customers back through the door, there seems likely to be an unavoidable trade-off in customer experience.
For the most part, the notion of ‘try before you buy’ is temporarily suspended as clothes shops close their changing rooms and close contact areas such as make-up booths in department stores remain closed.
Other retailers are attempting to find ways around the problem.
Shoe retailer Kurt Geiger are planning to quarantine all shoes that have been tried-on for a period of 24 hours and similarly, books that have been touched and unpurchased from Waterstones will also undergo quarantine for 72 hours.
Novus in retail
As a business, we are trusted by some of the biggest names in retail to carry out their in-store works.
Novus are well equipped to help your business navigate these uncertain times with our range of Covid-Secure services and adaptations, as well our usual plethora of retail services.
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