Over the Bank Holiday Weekend the Government announced a provisional date for all non-essential retail to re-open to the public. Currently, if positive progress is seen in reducing the virus in the UK, these shops will be able to open from the 15th June.
The news comes as a welcome relief for many small, independent retailers who are keen to open again, and for locals who are keen to support them. While larger retailers have been able to move more business online, smaller retailers have had to cease normal business.
To be able to open there are hygiene and business considerations you will have to make specifically for your own business situation. We’ll take a quick look at those here.
Test The Water
It’s extremely unlikely to be ‘business as usual’ when you re-open, with the public understandable anxious about returning to the high street. You will need to plan for your business to be, likely, underperforming when compared to your usual sales figures.
As such you may wish to re-open with reduced hours or reduced days in the week. You will know best when your busiest times are, and you can save on staff costings and bills by effectively communicating to your customers when you will be open.
Some retailers may wish to have shopping ‘by appointment’ – an example of this may be a jewellers who wish to have a smaller staff on-hand while ensuring the safety of their customers.
If demand is high, expand your opening hours at that point.
As the support for furloughed staff is continued throughout the summer it would be wise to keep as many staff on furlough as possible. When considering staff who will return you may wish to prioritise those who can walk/cycle or drive alone to work.
As suggested above, it’s unlikely that your shop’s usual revenue will be reached, so remaining thrifty while there is the support available for your employees is a wise move.
If you are the business owner and have furloughed yourself you may only carry out essential business work, such as organising payroll, paying bills, etc… We believe that preparing your business for reopening does count as essential work. The general rule of thumb here is that any work you carry out while furloughed may not make money for the business.
Make Your Shop Covid-Safe
There are specific guidelines to which you must adhere when you re-open, and it will be a significant change. Take a look through the government guidance for Shops and Branches here and budget for what you’ll need to put in place.
Items you may need to purchase include:
- Floor stickers
- Face masks and gloves for employees
- Plexiglass shields
- Hand sanitising facilities (mobile hand wash station or gel sanitisers)
- Antimicrobial cleaning supplies
You may wish to consider your shop size and implement: a one-way system, a queueing system, a set of rules for employees and customers, a cleaning rota, a new workplace lunch/break policy, and a reviewed accident and emergency policy.
There is also a poster supplied by the government which you should sign and display to your customers.
Don’t Ditch Your Longer-Term Covid-19 Strategy
The reality is that we could go back into lockdown, nothing can be certain until we have an effective vaccine. So if you’ve already set in motion a plan to diversify your business, for example: to take your business online, do continue with those plans.
If you haven’t yet considered a longer term strategy now is a good time to do so. There is a chance that shopping habits will be altered for the short-medium term even if the pandemic stays under control. So prepare your business to be flexible enough to operate in or out of lockdown.
Please Note: 15th June is a provisional date only. We will be receiving further updates from the Government to confirm closer to the time, but the measures advised in this blog will be relevant to whenever your retail business is permitted to open.