With temporary store closures; it’s been a turbulent few months for the retail sector. As business continues to weather the economic storm – a recent announcement from the government has enabled the industry to glimpse hope on the horizon; it has been declared that non-essential shops can reopen in England from 15 June.
While this will be a huge step toward reestablishing the status quo; we can’t expect a hasty transition to normality. In Monday’s press conference, the Prime Minister firmly stated that shops must meet specific guidelines to protect staff and shoppers, before they can reopen next month.
Ahead of this statement from Number 10; retailers have used lockdown to strategise – configuring innovative plans to ensure that the appropriate measures are taken in providing a safe environment. But how will retail change in the coming months? What will it be like to shop in a post-pandemic United Kingdom?
Keeping a distance
Social distancing remains the most effective method at preventing the spread of the infection; thus, people will be required to retain a 2m (approx. 6ft) separation whilst in stores. Appropriate signage will be utilised to enforce this; from floor vinyls used to distinguish the appropriate standing area when queuing – to interchangeable A-frames to limit the number of shoppers in each store at a time; preventing overcrowding.
The BRC (British Retail Consortium) has detailed that companies should assess the size of their store and its layout to calculate the number of customers who can enter and adhere to the two-metre distance. These measures have already been implemented by supermarket chains to great success – they will likely be applied to numerous other settings; including offices, classrooms and even medical labs.
Going the extra mile
Striving to ensure appropriate hygiene and sanitation – non-essential retail managers will task their staff with regulating one-way systems on the shop floor and restrictions on touching merchandise. Bookshops will set aside products previously browsed by customers; quarantining merchandise for 72 hours before putting it back on sale.
Footwear chains have announced their plans to follow suit; shoes that have been tried on will be set aside for 24 hours before another shopper is allowed to wear them. Fitting rooms that remain open will be cleaned thoroughly between each use – while contactless payment will be encouraged to limit contact between consumers and staff.
The road to recovery
“Shops now have the time to implement this guidance before they reopen. This will ensure there can be no doubt about what steps they should take.”
– Boris Johnson
Now we are attaining a firmer understanding of COVID-19; we’re able to adapt with efficiency. The retail sector is working with concepts derived from scientific studies; preventing the spread and enhancing the safety of the general public. While it’s important for customers to stay alert – abiding by the instructions instated by each store; the incredible efforts taken by the workforce will enable us to keep the Coronavirus at bay.
We’re immensely proud of the efforts made by our two assets; The Pantiles and Peterborough One Retail Park. As more shops open, we will work closely with our fantastic tenants to provide the safest possible customer experience.