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The high streets new role in the new norm has arrived

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As the high street opened its doors, we look back at what the retail strategy has been for reopening stores, the differences you should now be seeing and who has already gone the extra mile in creating a safe and reassuring shopping experience.

Retail stores are now reopening for business

What is the retail strategy for store re-openings?

Not all brands are opening their full store estate. Many retailers such as Debenhams, John Lewis and Joules have taken the route of a phased approach, to give confidence to the consumers and understand any learnings that they need to apply across their other store estate. Whereas Primark, who have been unable to service their customers due to the lack of an eCommerce operation will be opening all of their stores across the UK. Smyths who have been able trade via their website are taking the same approach as Primark, including same day click and collect across all but 5 stores.

It also should be remembered that every country in the UK are taking their own approach, with Wales only opening stores this week and Scotland starting next week.

More information on the above can be found on the BBC News site.

What have retailers needed to change as they open their stores?

The British Retail Consortium (BRC) and the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers (USDAW) have collaborated to issue guidance to non-essential retail stores on social distancing ahead of their anticipated reopening. This has been taken from some of the approaches across essential stores, including the following:

  • Clear signage to remind customers about 2m safe distancing, when entering and whilst customers are shopping
  • Place markings outside of the store to facilitate distancing whilst customers queue
  • Limiting the number of customers in store to make 2m distancing viable, based on the size and layout of the store
  • Reducing the number of ways for customers to enter and exit a store, with one-way entrance and exits advocated
  • Colleagues to meet customers as they enter the store to explain the social distancing requirements and control the number of customers coming into the store
  • Store staff to wear protective visors or face masks
  • Access to hand sanitisers on the way into the store and throughout the store
  • Cleaning of high contact point areas including card machines, baskets or trolleys, after customers have used them
  • Removal of or limiting customer seating in-store and ensuring this is spaced out appropriately
  • Consider whether you need to open changing rooms; if this is not possible, ensure that staff are on hand to maintain social distancing
  • Review your approach to in-store toilets, with recommendations including only opening on customer request

More information can be found in the PDF guide, on the BRC website, updated as of the 4th June 2020:

Who has gone the extra mile?

Essential retailers and stores who were able to open in the last May bank holiday have already had a head start and have been able to demonstrate their response to government and BRC guidelines. Here are a few of the top picks we have seen so far:

Aldi: in late May The Independent reported that Aldi launched a new automated traffic light system to selected stores, reducing the need for staff to man the doors

Boots: also in late May, Retail Gazette reported that Boots were re-launching their beauty counters, Boots are continuing to provide access to their beauty specialists, with skin care advice via online video consultations

Tesco: in early June, Essential Retail reported that Tesco announced that to manage queuing and number of customers instore, they have started to rollout 3D imaging technology to 60 stores

Next: since opening the home department, Next has launched a new customer surveying initiative called NEXTLOVESTOLISTEN, to gain feedback on customers store experience, anything they could have done differently and likelihood to refer a friend

NEXT’s new NEXTLOVETOLISTEN in store customer experience survey

At RetailRecovery we look forward to seeing more innovation like the above as the high street establishes its new role in the new norm.

What have we seen so far?

Early signs show that shoppers are interested in returning back to the high street, with week on week numbers up by 51%. However, research from retail analyst Springboard shows that caution should be taken, with Year on Year numbers still significantly lower, with footfall down -45.3% year on year across the high street and -35.9% across all retail destinations in England. Whilst we expect numbers to improve as more stores, restaurants and bars begin to reopen, we do not believe that footfall and offline sales will ever return to pre Covid-19 levels, with consumers preferring to buy online.

Do you need RetailRecovery’s help?

If you need to get your retail strategy back on track, our RetailEvaluator framework enables you to understand where you can improve your retail plan both today and in the future. Contact us today for further information.

Alternatively, you can download our FREE Covid-19 retail strategy whitepaper, containing more than 110 practical recommendations, to help you navigate today‚Äôs current climate and plan for business growth.


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