What might our shops look like when we can go into them?

Norwich city centre during lockdown. Rainbow balloons on display in the Sir Garnet pub Picture: BRIT

Norwich city centre during lockdown. Rainbow balloons on display in the Sir Garnet pub Picture: BRITTANY WOODMAN - Credit: Archant

Changing rooms closed, staff wearing face shields, and no product testers.

These are just some of the changes being suggested by the British Retail Consortium (BRC), which is leading on the advice and direction the UK high street should take when shops reopen.

The BRC is advising on everything from testing staff to sharing customer reactions to changes.

The organisations found that not only were customers unfazed by staff wearing PPE, they responded well.

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The BRC said: “It is not government guidance to require any form of PPE in non-clinical workplaces. However most businesses are providing gloves, masks and/or face guards to those that request them.

“Anecdotal feedback indicates that where provided the option to use is a mechanism for reassurance for staff that wish to use it. Initially some colleagues were being asked why they were not wearing masks. Several businesses are now giving staff the option to wear masks, gloves or shields and we are not aware of any negative reaction.”

Professor Joshua Bamfield, the director for the Centre for Retail Research, said he believes that being proactive in areas such as PPE and social distancing is good business practise. Prof Bamfield said: “What we’re seeing from some customers is that they’re terrified to go into shops. Those that do want to go out and shop are not worried by seeing staff in head-to-toe PPE because it’s the new norm. The other thing to consider is that if businesses are not adhering to guidelines they could face legal action.”

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The BRC also said that from its research businesses are largely choosing to close their changing rooms, are removing product testers and only accepting contactless payments.

Prof Bamfield added: “What will be interesting is when clothing and homeware shops reopen to see how customers react. There is some pressure at the moment to get in and out of shops and know exactly what you want - how this will impact businesses where people shop around remains to be seen.”

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