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How B&Q approached reopening its stores – and how other Top500 home and hardware stores are now trading

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DIY chain B&Q is this week reopening its stores after temporarily shutting them due to coronavirus. We take a look at how the retailer has approached reopening its stores, and at how other RetailX Top500 retailers in the home and hardware category are now trading. 

B&Q stores are among those permitted to remain open since the retailer is classed as a home and hardware shop, a category deemed essential retail by the government. But its almost 300 shops have been closed to the public since March 23 – aside from a contactless click and collect service – as the retailer worked to adapt its business. 

Queues on the B&Q website were this morning running at more than an hour, highlighting the level of customer demand the retailer continues to receive. Currently more than 155 stores are open, following a small trial of 14 shops last weekend. The remainder are due to reopen by the end of May. 

Graham Bell, chief executive of B&Q, said: “During this time of self-isolation and social distancing, we’re all learning new ways of living and shopping; we’ve watched how other essential retailers have supported social distancing in their stores and followed their best practice with trials at 14 stores.


“Following the success of the trials, with customers adhering to our social distancing measures, we’ve now opened over half of our stores. We’re confident that our strict social distancing measures keep customers and colleagues safe while helping homes and gardens, as well as people’s wellbeing, to be maintained.


“Whether shopping in our stores or online, we ask that all our customers follow the Government’s social distancing guidelines and shop responsibly only for what is necessary.”

The newly reopened stores feature social distancing, with strict limits on the number of people in store at any one time. That means shoppers are likely to queue. Two metre distances are measured out for floor markings around the shop, and there are perspex screens to protect checkout staff. Shoppers can buy products that are available to take away but services such as bathroom and kitchen design, paint mixing and key cutting are not available. Payments can only be made via contactless, card and gift card. 

B&Q explains on its blog how it has watched grocers put safe shopping methods in place and has now applied those principles to its own stores. It adds: “Our aim is to provide the best possible service and help customers look after their homes and gardens as well as their wellbeing at this difficult time.”

Meanwhile, at B&Q’s sister company Screwfix, shoppers can only buy online, choosing to collect from store or order for home delivery. Store opening hours – for click and collect – are restricted, and a small number of its 682 branches are fully closed for staffing reasons.

Elsewhere in the home and hardware category, Wickes stores remain closed, although click and collect is available for essential items only. Home delivery slots are full for the next three weeks. 

Toolstation temporarily suspended trading following the March 23 shut down and is now operating a click and collect only service. No customers are allowed into its more than 400 branches, where staff must observe two metre distancing. It is offering next-business day delivery from its distribution centre. Only items that one person can lift are available for sale. 

Dunelm is only selling online, and is warning that deliveries may take between three and four weeks to arrive. However it has now introduced contactless doorstep delivery for larger items of furniture. 

Wilko stores are open with social distancing, protective screens and floor markers in place, while tills will only accept card payments. Only standard home delivery and click and collect services are available. 


Image courtesy of B&Q

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