The BRC has worked with the Usdaw shop workers union to develop advice for reopening non-essential retail shops after the current Covid-19 lockdown.
The retail organisation published its guidance on social distancing on Sunday, soon after B&Q last week started to reopen its stores, which fall into the essential retail category, to members of the public. Shops have been closed since March 23 and there’s currently no official timetable for moving out of lockdown but the guidance has been published in order to help retailers consider what they would need to do to sell safely from their stores ahead of a lifting of the lockdown.
The guidance draws on lessons from supermarkets and pharmacies as well as those who have continued to sell online, adding that to government guidance on selling safely in pandemic conditions. Those retailers that are currently trading have taken measures outside and inside stores, introducing plexiglass screens at tills and limiting numbers both in store and in socially-distanced warehousing operations.
Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium, said: “Retailers are closely following developments from Government on when restrictions might be eased and are starting to plan accordingly. The safety and wellbeing of retail colleagues and customers remains the highest priority and these guidelines aim to support everyone in the industry.
“Since the lockdown, many retailers have proved how shops can be run safely and effectively in line with the Government’s social distancing advice. This guidance is the product of retail’s incredible efforts to adapt to exceptional circumstances. The industry knows how to serve the public while protecting staff and customers alike.
“Continued close collaboration with Government, including public support for the steps retailers are taking and adequate notice to get supply chains up and running, will mean that retail businesses can start trading again slowly and safely, and customers can feel confident that they are safe to return to shops.”
The reports covers recommendations on implementing social distancing in stores and includes recommendations that changing rooms stay closed – or ensuring they are supervised if open – and limiting in-store seating and services, such as advice, personal shopping or nail bars - or helping customers get large items to cars. There’s also advice on whether customer toilets should stay open.
Paddy Lillis, Usdaw general secretary said: “Non-food retail should only start trading again when expert public health advice agrees. However, we need to be ready and we need to make sure that the proper preparations and measures are put in place. Usdaw and the British Retail Consortium have been working to develop advice and guidance for the non-food retail sector on what effective safe distancing in the shops might look like. We would urge all high street retailers to study the joint advice and open a dialogue with Usdaw and the BRC on putting in place plans for adequate social distancing measures in their stores."