John Lewis was forced to close all of its stores for the first time in its 155-year history due to the coronavirus pandemic. However, the high street is slowly starting to reopen its doors as the government has issued new guidelines on easing the UK lockdown. With non-essential shops permitted to reopen from June 15, John Lewis has confirmed that several of its outlets will be reopening in a phased plan.
Department stores have been some of the hardest hit by the pandemic, but John Lewis is cautiously making its comeback with a step-by-step plan.
The company has revealed that it will start by opening just two stores on June 15 to test out its new measures.
It will then open a further 11 stores if the trial is successful, with plans to roll out the reopening across the UK later in the summer if it is deemed safe.
However, a spokesperson said it depended on the reaction of both customers and employees and whether the social distancing measures can be maintained.
In a statement on the website, the company said: “From 15 June, we’ll begin to reopen 13 of our shops in different stages. Our absolute priority is keeping you and our Partners safe. That’s why we’re taking great care to put comprehensive social distancing measures in place.”
John Lewis is putting new policies in place ahead of the reopening, and is said to have picked the initial locations for their accessibility by car.
New policies will include fewer entrances and staff who will ensure only a limited number of customers enter at a time, so shoppers may have to queue outside.
Much like supermarkets, there will now be protective screens at the checkouts to protect staff and customers.
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Its beauty counters may be the main section of the shop to suffer, with beauty appointments no longer available in order to stick to the two metre distancing rule.
Personal styling and bra fitting is also off the menu in store, but the brand is now offering virtual personal shopper services instead.
The retailer has also said any returned stock will be separated from other stock for 72 hours, in order to prevent the spread of the virus which can temporarily live on surfaces.
The changing rooms will remain closed, as will the in-store cafes, until the government allows for restaurants to reopen.
Confirming the good news on its website, the company said:
“The safety of our Partners and customers will be our overriding priority in all elements of our reopening plan and we want to ensure any lessons we have learnt from opening the initial stage of shops can be applied to the rest of our shops before we open more.
“Our plan has been created so that it is flexible and we are ready to adapt it if the need arises; either as a result of further guidance from the government, or because of things we learn during the early stages of our own re-openings.”
On June 15 the first two locations will open:
On June 18 a further 11 shops will open: