Modern Retail

Keeping staff and customers safe as retailers reopen their doors

As more non-essential retail businesses begin to reopen in July across the UK, staying safe whilst venturing out onto the highstreet should be seen as a top priority. 

The world of retail has been undeniably shaken by the COVID-19 pandemic as shops across the country shut their doors in March in a bid to prevent the further spread of the disease. Amid a great deal of uncertainty, retailers were unable to predict when they would once again reopen as the pandemic continued to spread at a rapid rate across the globe. Now, four months later, non-essential shops have finally been given the green light to start trading once again.

With many relying on e-commerce to survive, businesses are now eager to get back on their feet and welcome as many customers through the door as possible. But how will businesses protect their workers and customers from the spread of disease as eager shoppers head out onto the highstreet for the first time in months?

A ‘new normal’

After several non-essential retailers began opening their doors throughout June, the public have been given a glimpse into what shopping will be like as more stores plan to reopen this month.

In a bid to ensure safety, shoppers are likely to see protective screens, hand sanitising stations and enforced social distancing measures. In many shops, staff will continue to wear PPE, whilst for customers this is not currently a compulsory rule. These measures will stay in place until COVID-19 is no longer a viable threat, likely to be the case only once a vaccination has been developed. 

Customers should expect their shopping trips to take longer than they used to as they will likely be required to queue before entering the store in order to avoid overcrowding. Stores may also change the layout of their shop floors to help maximise space so that customers can move around easily whilst limiting contact as much as possible.

The way we shop is also going to be very different for the time being with certain services such as fitting rooms and beauty treatments likely to remain suspended in many retail outlets. Many stores are also increasing their contactless payment limit and are encouraging customers to use this option wherever possible.

Protective screens

Helping customers and staff to maintain face to face contact without the health risks, protective screens will be one of the most popular preventative measures adopted by stores across the UK.

Acting as a barrier against airborne particles, released into the air not just by sneezing or coughing, but also by talking and breathing, protective screens are one the best ways to keep everyone safe as shops reopen in vast numbers. Already seen in supermarkets since the beginning of lockdown, screens will now also be seen at cash registers and collection points in non-essential stores in order to prevent contact as much as possible. 

There are a wide variety of protective screens available, for example perspex screens, which are made of an extremely durable form of acrylic plastic. Being as transparent as glass, communication between staff and customers does not have to be compromised amid efforts to protect the health of the public. 

Whether you’re looking for a screen that’s easy to move around, or a hanging screen that provides more room and can be easily suspended from the ceiling, there are many options available for a wide range of safety needs.

A challenge for small businesses

Small businesses, independent stores, as well as those with limited space are likely to be concerned when it comes to protecting staff and the public amid reopening. Whilst supermarkets and large retailers can easily implement strategies and provide space for socially distanced queuing, these are luxuries many retailers might be worried about as shoppers return to the highstreet. 

Installing protective screens, as well as encouraging customers to sanitize their hands, are some of the easiest, most cost-effective ways to protect workers and the public. For smaller businesses who may be concerned about ensuring customers feel comfortable upon entering and browsing their store, implementing these measures will help put minds at ease. 

This is an uncertain time for retailers across the country, but also an exciting one. Keeping workers and customers safe whilst they shop is the best way to ensure that businesses can remain open and return to normality as soon as possible. With many shoppers feeling uneasy about returning to the highstreet, making sure that all the correct protective measures are in place is the best way to install confidence in your customers once again.