Following new government guidance on non-essential retail stores, department store John Lewis has outlined its reopening plans.
With Waitrose stores remaining opening during lockdown, the firm has been able to learn from its experiences implementing social distancing and has chosen to initially open fewer than a quarter of locations, including Cheadle. Stores have been selected for their accessibility by car, and will have 4 weeks to prepare for reopenings.
While the chain’s 50 stores have been closed since 23rd March, John Lewis has continued to trade online during the Covid-19 pandemic and reported an uplift in e-commerce sales.
Sharon White, Partner & Chairman of the John Lewis Partnership, said:
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.
“It’s been heartwarming to see John Lewis Partners stepping into different roles to support our Waitrose supermarkets and to keep johnlewis.com running and I’m proud of everything our Partners across both our brands have done to help us get to this point.
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.
“However, while we have experience of social distancing in our Waitrose shops, we will need to establish new ways of working in our department stores. We are taking this cautious approach to be able to learn as we go and to make sure that our shops are as safe as they can possibly be for our customers and Partners.”
Measures being introduced to John Lewis stores to ensure the safety of its staff and customers include:
- The introduction of a “Customer Service Host” assigned to welcome customers into the store and answer any questions while managing customer numbers, queues both at entrances and busy areas of the shop and explain to customers what changes they might see in store.
- Reducing the number of shop entrances.
- Caps on the number of customers entering stores.
- Prominent social distancing signage.
- Protective screens at checkouts and areas of the shop where 2 metre social distancing cannot be achieved between customers and Partners.
- Control procedures for escalators and lifts limiting the number of users.
- Rigorous and frequent cleaning.
- Provision of hand sanitiser for customers to use at all entrances.
- Social distancing in back of house areas.
- New contactless payment limit of £45.
- Limiting the number of additional customer services – for example close-contact beauty services will not be offered and customer catering outlets and fitting rooms will remain closed until further notice.
- Safe and simple returns process – for example inline with government guidance we are going to separate returned stock from new or old stock for 72 hours.
In addition to the Cheadle store, other stores opening in June are Kingston, Poole, Bluewater, Cambridge, Cheltenham, High Wycombe, Horsham, Ipswich, Norwich, Nottingham, Solihull and Welwyn.
While John Lewis stores have been closed, many staff have been redeployed to supermarket chain Waitrose where possible to help manage the increased demand stores have seen.