Customers should 'respect staff' and follow Covid rules when shops reopen

Credit: PA

Shoppers should respect staff when returning to stores as both customers and employees adapt to the new guidelines once the high street reopens, the head of The British Retail Consortium has said.

Retailers are hoping pent-up demand and the fun of "physical shopping" will see consumers flooding back into shops after a turbulent year of repeated lockdowns has crippled the already struggling industry.

With restrictions easing in England on Monday - allowing the reopening of non-essential retail and the government hoping the current lockdown will be the last - many shops are hoping to put Covid behind them.

The government’s updated safety guidance makes clear that all customers will have to continue to follow social distancing rules; shop alone or in small groups; queue or follow one-way signs where necessary; follow hygiene rules; and wear a mask unless they have an exemption.

Credit: PA

Helen Dickinson, Chief Executive of the British Retail Consortium (BRC) said: "Many of us will be looking forward to returning to our favourite shop in the coming weeks, and we all have a duty to keep each other safe.

"Everyone should be considerate and respectful to their fellow shoppers and hard-working shop staff.

"This way we can all enjoy shopping and support our local communities."

The BRC has calculated non-food stores have lost £30 billion in foregone sales over the three lockdowns.

Alongside the BRC the union Usdaw are asking people to play their part in keeping shop workers safe and ensuring there is no risk to the government’s road map out of lockdown.

A staff member cleaning shoes at the John Lewis White City store ahead of reopening Credit: PA

Paddy Lillis, Usdaw general secretary, said: “The reopening of stores on Monday offers a lifeline for many retailers, which helps to safeguard jobs, but the virus is still out there.

“We expect employers to follow the agreed guidance and ensure that customers are fully informed of the necessary safety measures.

“Shoppers need to play their part in helping to limit the spread of the virus and avoid further lockdowns by following the rules and respecting staff.”

Retailers will be able to extend their opening hours from 7am to 10pm to help customers avoid peak times and ease transport pressures.

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Shops have spent hundreds of millions of pounds on measures designed to prevent the transmission of Covid, including safety glass, queue management systems, social distancing signage, better ventilation, and more frequent cleaning.

The measures have been updated in accordance with the latest government guidance, which addresses issues such as testing of staff, use of fitting rooms and safe use of air conditioning and ventilation.

Although many will be looking forward to the prospect of trying clothes on again before they buy in store not all retailers are opening the cubicles immediately as they come to terms with enhanced hygiene requirements.

From April 12, pub beer gardens will also reopen, alongside hairdressers and beauty parlours, gyms, leisure facilities, outdoor attractions and holidaymakers in England will be allowed to book a domestic trip from Monday.

Britain's struggling high streets are eager to welcome people back. Credit: PA

John Lewis executive director Pippa Wicks said the retailer was "looking forward to reuniting customers with the joy of physical shopping".

"We’re also excited to be opening up much-needed services and helping customers choose those items that are harder to buy online – from the perfect mattress, to road testing the right pram or finding the right pair of jeans.

"We want to make sure the shopping experience is as fun and inspiring as it’s ever been, while also ensuring that our customers and partners feel safe."

John Lewis recently announced it would be closing eight more of its department stores, several of which were in some of the biggest cities in the UK, after an extraordinarily difficult year.