Reigniting retail: a guide to reopening your shop post-lockdown
As we enter month three of the UK lockdown, there’s finally a light at the end of the tunnel for English retailers. Just days ago, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that shops in England may reopen on 15th June, given that stringent hygiene and social distancing standards are met. But what does this mean for retailers, and what can you be doing to make sure your shop is “Covid Secure” in time for opening day?
Social distancing outside your shop…With limited customers allowed inside bricks and mortar stores at any given time, it’s natural that queues may build up outside your shop.
Ensure you have adequate signage reminding people to keep their distance as well as educating them on any guidelines they should follow once they enter the shop. If you’re in a shopping centre, the building management should be able to help you set this up.
If possible, consider stationing a team member at the entrance to explain guidelines and control foot fall in and out.
Inside the shop…Naturally, social distancing is only going to work if people have enough space. Make sure you’ve identified how many people you can have inside at any one time (don’t forget to count yourself and any staff). Think about the layout and square meterage of your space and don’t forget to bear in mind the 2metre social distancing rule.
Many supermarkets and essential shops have already implemented floor markings to help with social distancing inside. Make sure this is at the very least implemented in areas like tills and pick up points to help keep people apart whilst they’re queuing.
Since there’s usually more staff required when it comes to restocking shelves, consider doing this outside of opening hours. This will help you reduce the amount of people on the shop floor, freeing up space for customers and ensuring safe conditions for both shoppers and staff.
Try to ensure customers are only staying in your shop for as short a time as possible. Whilst you don’t want to hurry them in and out, you also want to try to avoid people sitting and lingering in the shop. Remove seating areas and consider temporarily closing off changing rooms.
It might seem obvious, but don’t restart any services that would encourage or necessitate direct contact with customers. Things like make up sessions or personal shopping should be avoided.
Keeping it clean…Guidance from the British Retail Consortium and Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers recommends placing cleaning equipment at the front of your shop. Cleaning stations should include hand sanitiser as well as disinfectant wipes or spray to clean baskets. Don’t forget to regularly disinfect surfaces within the shop as well. Cleaning should be carried out frequently in work areas, on equipment and on anything that is frequently touched (such as trolleys, self-checkouts or staff handheld devices) between each use, using your usual cleaning products.
Since it’s exchanged from hand to hand, physical money can be difficult to keep clean and virus-free. Instead, encourage contactless or card payments only, and make sure terminals are regularly cleaned.
The guidance states that all sites that are due to reopen should undertake an assessment of what needs to be cleaned, and put in place a clear guide around cleaning procedure. This section is sizable so we have just picked out key points. You can view this section of the Government’s guidance here.
Please note: if you are cleaning after a known or suspected case of COVID-19 then refer to the specific guidance.
Encouraging hygiene…This applies when it comes to handwashing, sanitation facilities and toilets. Use signs and posters to build awareness of and reinforce good handwashing technique and the need to increase handwashing frequency. Posters and signage can also be used to remind customers and staff to avoid touching their face and to cough or sneeze into a tissue which is then binned, or into their arm, if a tissue is not available.
Provide hand sanitiser in multiple locations in addition to washrooms, enhance cleaning for busier areas and provide more waste facilities and increase rubbish collections.
Make sure your team are safe and aware…Your team are just as important as your customers, so ensure that you and your staff are just as well protected and aware of all guidance.
If you can, install Perspex screens at payment points to protect till staff, and ensure that these are also regularly cleaned.
Make sure you clearly brief your team before opening on new rules. Everyone on the team should know how many people are allowed on the shop floor (staff and customers), how to properly clean equipment and surfaces and what other measures you have taken to keep everyone safe.
Social distancing measures apply to staff as well as customers, so remind them that they should follow guidelines even in non-client-facing areas. Where possible, encourage back-to-back or side-to-side, rather than face-to-face, working.
It’s also a good idea to try and keep the same staff groups together on shift rotations and to stagger shift times as well as rest and lunch breaks, limiting the amount of team members each person has contact with.
Consider also trying to provide alternative options to those team members who would otherwise take public transport. Provide bike racks or additional parking facilities, for example.
Using PPE…The Government has not mandated the use of PPE and when managing the risk of COVID-19, additional PPE beyond what you usually wear is not beneficial. This is because COVID-19 is a different type of risk to the risks you normally face in a workplace, and needs to be managed through social distancing, hygiene and fixed teams or partnering, not through the use of PPE.
Undoubtedly, many people will feel safer with face coverings and there are some circumstances when wearing a face covering may be marginally beneficial as a precautionary measure. The evidence suggests that wearing a face covering does not protect you, but it may protect others if you are infected but have not developed symptoms.
A face covering can be very simple and may be worn in enclosed spaces where social distancing isn’t possible. It just needs to cover your mouth and nose. It is important to know that the evidence of the benefit of using a face covering to protect others is weak and the effect is likely to be small, therefore face coverings are not a replacement for the other ways of managing risk, including minimising time spent in contact, using fixed teams and partnering for close-up work, and increasing hand and surface washing.
Employers should support their workers in using face coverings safely if they choose to wear one. This means telling workers:
- Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water for 20 seconds or use hand sanitiser before putting a face covering on, and after removing it
- When wearing a face covering, avoid touching your face or face covering, as you could contaminate them with germs from your hands
- Change your face covering if it becomes damp or if you’ve touched it
- Continue to wash your hands regularly
- Change and wash your face covering daily
- If the material is washable, wash in line with manufacturer’s instructions. If it’s not washable, dispose of it carefully in your usual waste
- Practise social distancing wherever possible
Inbound and outbound goods...The aim of this guidance is to maintain social distancing and avoid surface transmission when goods enter and leave the site. Whilst this section is mainly designed for large distribution centres there are some practical points that are easily applicable for retail stores of all sizes.
Revise pick-up and drop-off collection points, procedures, signage and markings for deliveries and consider reducing the frequency of deliveries by ordering larger quantities less often.
Where possible and safe, having single workers load or unload vehicles. If this is not possible consider using the same pairs of people for loads where more than one is needed.
Encourage drivers to stay in their vehicles where this does not compromise their safety and existing safe working practice, such as preventing drive-aways. However, you must still be able to allow drivers to access welfare facilities when required, consistent with other guidance.
Handling goods, merchandise and other materials...As the virus can survive on surfaces, try to minimise the handling of goods as much as possible. Limit customers handling products, through through different display methods, new signage or rotation of high-touch stock.
Where possible, put in place pick-up and drop-off collection points which avoid the necessity of passing goods hand to hand. Equally, set up a no-contact returns procedure where customers can take return items to a specified area.
Quarantine items that have been returned, donated, brought in for repair or extensively handled, for example tried on shoes or clothes, in a container or separate room for 72 hours, or clean such items with usual cleaning products, before displaying them on the shop floor. Materials used for cleaning can be disposed of normally.
The following resources are also designed to help you safely reopen your shop on 15th June: