A different retail experience…

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BPE Heyma Holmes

Following announcements from Government in recent days, retailers are now confirming the dates that they will reopen.  Car showrooms and outdoor markets have already reopened this week with non-essential retailers able to open in a fortnight (15th June 2020 onwards).

Heyma Holmes, Partner at BPE Solicitors takes a look at the new guidelines for retailers. Non-essential retail includes shops selling clothes, shoes, toys, furniture, books, and electronics, plus tailors, auction houses, photography studios, and indoor markets. The COVID-secure guidelines provide details of the new procedures that retailers will need to adopt in order to provide a safe environment for both employees and customers.  These include:

Changes to how stock, including returned items, are handled

 Goods which are returned will need to be stored for 72 hours before being put back on the stock floor

  • Larger products such as beds or sofas will have protective covers on them as they are likely to be touched by customers
  • Some retailers may not open changing rooms


Frequent cleaning of objects and surfaces that are touched regularly by employees/customers, including door handles, keypads, self-checkouts and trolleys/baskets.

Supermarkets, which are deemed as essential retailers and have remained open throughout, have given an indication of how such businesses might operate however shopping experiences will differ and other measures non-essential retailers will need to consider are:

  • Staggering the timing of staff breaks
  • Staggering arrival and departure times
  • Introducing one-way flow systems for staff at lifts, locker rooms, corridors entry and exit points.

These new measures will place an additional burden on retail stores which has already led to many employers considering which staff are essential for the running of the business. Businesses have already embarked on collective consultation and restructure programmes, and are number crunching to ensure that there is a minimum number of staff in a retail space for it to operate safely.

The key to any successful changes in an employment environment is consistent and clear communication. To get the buy in of staff, an employer needs to ensure that they are aware of the risk assessments undertaken and, where appropriate, consult with trade union representatives. Any changes of methods to working such as cleaning a counter once they have served a customer, ensuring screens are in place and handwashing frequency will need to be communicated to staff and, for more difficult tasks, some training programmes will need to be implemented prior to their return.

The guidelines are expected to have a major impact on how we shop. Only time will tell how these measures will be implemented and received, and whether customers will be willing to join the queue again or will continue shopping online.

If you require more information on this or any other area of Employment law, please contact Heyma Holmes on heyma.holmes@bpe.co.uk