As the national COVID-19 lockdown and restrictions are eased, and we try to return to some fashion of normal, businesses need to consider retail safety as retail reopening commences from the 12th of April.
All non-essential shops were forcibly closed in response to the last rise in Coronavirus cases. This closure period has changed the consumer’s shopping mindset and behaviours, as they moved from physical to digital (online) shopping. So, what does this mean for retail?
The Safety Measures In Place
Shop owners need to keep their staff and customers safe, beginning with completing a COVID-19 risk assessment and making reasonable adjustments. You should communicate ongoing safety measures and follow government-issued guidelines, which include:
- Ensuring staff wear face coverings when in customer-facing areas. This is a legal requirement in shops, supermarkets, banks, shopping centres, estate agents, and post offices. You must supply face coverings and Retail PPE for your staff, although they can wear their own mask if they prefer.
- Helping staff manage social distancing with barriers, introducing back-to-back or side-to-side working, and creating staff teams, so the same people work with each other.
- Reducing crowding by managing queues and using floor markings.
- Adopting a limited entry approach to customer fitting rooms and closing multi-occupancy fitting rooms. You need to leave a few minutes between use, which can be achieved by alternating between two fitting rooms. When not in use, leave doors and curtains open, and make hand sanitiser available at entry and exit points.
- Limiting customer handling of merchandise by introducing product rotation or cleaning.
- Staggering collection times.
- Providing hand sanitiser in washrooms.
- Cleaning more often.
- Managing social distancing, which may include introducing one-way systems.
- Providing adequate ventilation using doors, windows, vents, or fans.
- Ensuring employees do not attend work if they have Coronavirus symptoms or have been in contact with a confirmed case.
We also know that Coronavirus can contaminate clothing, so using a retail workwear rental and laundering service is an excellent measure to introduce. Stylish retail clothing from Lindstrom is manufactured from the finest fabrics and materials and hygienically cleaned and replaced ahead of each shift.
You can find out more about our retail workwear rental here.
The Future Impact On Retail
Physical retail was already experiencing a decline in many segments, as eCommerce was moving towards dominance. The closure of non-essential shops forced consumers to buy online, including items previously avoided in the online forum.
As shopping habits change, it will be vital for retailers to assess the relationship between online and offline and find ways to combine them effectively.
Physical retail will continue to be a strong ally of eCommerce, but its nature may need to change. Physical retail may need an experience-led and not transaction-led approach, focusing on creating engagement and building loyalty.
We are sure to see positive trends in the economy following this period of COVID-recession. However, recessions always expose weaknesses in businesses and strategies, so companies will need to make changes and adapt if they are to remain on top.
To survive, retailers will need to consider the future and new shopping trends such as contactless shopping or appointment-only shopping, previously the designer labels’ realm. There may also be a shift towards shorter and more flexible leases, helping businesses respond to changes rather than invest heavily in flagship stores.