Practical tips for coming out of lockdown
With the announcement that non-essential shops began reopening from Monday 15th June, retailers can begin the slow return to normality. This is a huge relief, but the return to trading must be navigated carefully.
With social distancing measures still in place, you’ll need to undertake a risk assessment to ensure your customers and staff are protected. This will probably include limiting customers to your shop, introducing one-way systems and hygiene measures such as making hand sanitiser available, providing PPE to staff, regular cleaning of equipment and protective screens.
Customers will undoubtedly be hesitant to return to shops, so you’ll need to open up communication with them and demonstrate how seriously you take their concerns. Show them the measures you are taking to protect them by sending out newsletters and social media posts with your plans. Create signage to convey the rules and to reassure the public of the measures you have in place to protect them. You can download Covid-19 Secure posters here: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/media/5eb97021d3bf7f5d43765cbf/staying-covid-19-secure-accessible.pdf to print out and display in your store.
You may need to rearrange your showroom or shop to make sure customers have room to move around while following the 2m distance rules, so take a careful look at your space before opening. Alternatively, opening under an appointment-only schedule might work best for your business, allowing your customers a more personal experience and space to relax away from other shoppers. Being able to give customers your sole attention may even work to your advantage, particularly as shoppers will be more focused on a sale having made the effort to arrange a time slot. Reward their loyalty by ensuring you are prepared for their visit, your shop is stocked and you are aware of time-scales and delivery issues for any products requiring ordering.
This is new territory and it is natural to feel daunted as well as excited to get back to work. There are plenty of resources online to help you, which we have included at the bottom of this blog. But the way you proceed is very individual, and what works for one business may not work for yours. Don’t be afraid to make changes, it’s a learning curve for us all and often you won’t see what works and what doesn’t until you begin trading. Ask your shoppers for feedback to help you get it right.
It won’t happen overnight, but with the right planning and the right attitude, those first tentative customers will soon turn into a steady stream.