John Lewis will begin to reopen its shops gradually from Monday June 15, starting with its Poole and Kingston department stores, followed by 11 others on Thursday June 18.
More shops will open throughout the summer if the new ways of operating – ensuring social distancing – are met with positive feedback from customers and John Lewis’ partners. The plans for re-opening follow the Government’s guidance earlier this week on easing restrictions for non-essential retailers.
“Our shops’ reopening is a sign of hope as we begin to find our new normal. There’s an opportunity, now, for us, to come back stronger as a business, and offer the safety and reassurance that customers will want,” states Sharon White, chairman of the John Lewis Partnership.
John Lewis is learning from the social distancing measures that have been operating at Waitrose. The department store branches selected to open have been chosen primarily because of their accessibility by car.
The business will undertake an ongoing assessment of the effectiveness of each of the operational changes it implements during this initial phase of reopening, making adjustments as it goes.
John Lewis temporarily closed its 50 department stores on March 23 for the first time in its 155-year history. However, johnlewis.com has continued to operate successfully, experiencing a significant uplift in sales.
Sharon White reflects: “The momentous events of the last few months have tested our resilience as a business, but our resourcefulness, innovation and the spirit of cooperation between partners has really shone through.”
Measures to be put in place at the reopening stores include a “Customer Service Host” assigned to welcome customers into the store and answer any questions while managing customer numbers. The number of shop entrances will be reduced, with a queuing procedure to limit numbers of customers in store. Escalators and lifts will have controls on usage.
There will be prominent social distancing signage and protective screens at checkouts and areas of the shop where two-metre social distancing cannot be achieved between customers and partners.
Stores will be subjected to rigorous and frequent cleaning, and hand sanitiser will be provided for customers to use at all entrances. The contactless payment limit will be £45. Any returned stock will be put aside for 72 hours.
The retailer is creating a video for customers on its website to show and explain the safety measures.
Other initiatives being considered by John Lewis include: virtual queuing, returns drop boxes and enabling Click & Collect from branch carparks.
Branches opening in the first stage are; from Monday June: 15 Kingston and Poole and from Thursday June 18; Bluewater, Cambridge, Cheadle, Cheltenham, High Wycombe, Horsham, Ipswich, Norwich, Nottingham, Solihull and Welwyn.
Top: John Lewis is preparing to put new safety procedures into action.