This is a major time for our retailers as they welcome us back into their stores. This reopening however, does come with a warning. High street shops across Wales have said another lockdown could prove fatal.
Retailers are excited to be opening their doors, as they plan for an economic bounce-back from the pandemic. After being closed for nine of the past 12 months, non-essential shops welcomed back customers from Monday (12th April). Some are planning to open seven days a week while others may take advantage of extended hours from 7am-10pm.
Essential retailers like Home Bargains, B&M, Tesco, Asda and Aldi have all been allowed to remain open in Wales, though the ban on the sale of ‘non essential’ items meant that several things were off-limits to shoppers.
While there is much excitement for all of us at the reopening, for one particular retailer, it’s the beginning of the end.
DEBENHAMS has confirmed it will reopen all stores in England and Wales for a huge final closing down sale this week. They will have discounts for up to 70 per cent off fashion and home and up to 50 per cent off beauty items.
Estimates are that stores will be open for between three and five weeks, depending on the stock clearance before they close for good.
Debenhams announced in in December that its administrators had begun its liquidation process.
Geoff Rowley of FRP Advisory, joint administrator to Debenhams and Partner at FRP, said last year……..
“All reasonable steps were taken to complete a transaction that would secure the future of Debenhams.
However, the economic landscape is extremely challenging and, coupled with the uncertainty facing the UK retail industry, a viable deal could not be reached.“
IKEA confirmed that its stores across England and Wales are reopen too.
While stores will be open for shopping, IKEA’s restaurants will remain closed until Monday 17th May in line with the current guidelines. The in-store takeaway Bistro and Swedish Food Markets will remain open. These can be found as you exit the store after paying.
What measures are in place?
In line with the government’s social distancing measures, the following changes will be implemented:
- On-site temperature checks for co-workers.
- Enhanced social distance guidance and signage throughout.
- A staggered entry system and limited numbers of customers granted entry in store at any one time.
- Social distance wardens to help customers and ensure everyone is following social distancing measures.
- Additional hand sanitiser facilities and more frequent deep cleaning routines for bags, trolleys, bathrooms, rest areas, equipment and touchscreens.
- Face coverings for co-workers and customers.
- Screens at key areas such as checkouts, service points and customer returns, to enable social distancing.
- In-store planning services to resume with screens and social distancing.
- Cashless payments, by card and contactless, preferred.
- All play areas and the customer restaurant to remain closed.
NEXT will limit the number of shoppers allowed in stores at one time when lockdown restrictions ease. They say the huge online sale recently is allowing them to make way for new stock.
They have brought back Covid secure rules, this includes capping the number of people allowed in a store in one go – the maximum number varies depending on the size of the store.
A Marshall will be stationed at the entrances to monitor numbers and it will operate a one-in-one-out policy at busier times.
Next has been closed since the start of the third national lockdown. But it has been allowed to continue to stay open for click and collect as well as operate online.
Next told us that products that don’t sell out in the clearance sale will be available in stores, but again this will vary by shop.
LUSH has 88 of its shops and 6 Lush Spas in England and Wales. Alongside new product launches and a new plastic packaging returns scheme, all shops will reopen with fresh handmade stock that is only days old. Scotland opening dates are still to be confirmed. To find out when your local Lush is reopening, go HERE.
Lush is not only looking forward to welcoming their customers back, but also welcoming their plastic packaging back! As part of Lush’s mission to ‘Leave the world Lusher than we found it’, all shops will be inviting customers to bring back any full-sized Lush plastic packaging to their local Lush shop to be recycled as part of their fresh new packaging returns scheme, Bring It Back.
For each plastic Lush item returned, customers will receive a 50p deposit to spend on their Lush basket that day.
At a time when physical retail is under huge economic pressure, Lush is committed to continuing investment in the high streets and providing innovation and new customer experiences.
If you’re planning a trip to London, Lush’s number one shop and Spa in the world, Lush Oxford Street is currently undergoing a transformation which will see new experiences and activations previously seen in Lush concept shops around the world come together under one roof, creating Lush’s ultimate shopping destination in London. The grand opening date will be Saturday 1st May.
Kat Hannible, Lush Retail Director for the UK & Ireland told us……
We’re back to serving our customers and community and we couldn’t be happier. Thank you to everyone planning to come and visit us. We can’t wait to see you.
Created to transform mind and body, Lush’s bespoke spa treatments are the perfect way to rejuvenate and revive. With treatment vouchers available (with no expiry date) in Lush shops nationwide and from the uk.lush.com, you could say that the Lush Spa is Lush’s best kept secret.
All therapists are fully trained in Covid related Health & safety procedures. Lush will also be asking all customers to complete a Covid wellness form before they arrive. To view the treatments available and procedures and policies in place to ensure that every customer has a magical experience at the Lush Spa in line with government guidelines, please refer to the FAQ page for more details.
Six Lush Spa Locations in England and Wales are now open. Lush Oxford Street Spa opening date is to be confirmed and the Lush Spa Edinburgh will open on 26th April.
In fact SOUTH WALES LIFE paid a visit to the Cardiff Spa at the end of the last lockdown and tried out the experience. Take a look at our feature HERE.
THE SHOPPING EXPERIENCE
Alongside local government guidelines – such as observing advised social distancing rules, no hands on demonstrations and having a safe queuing system to enter – staff safety measures for each Lush shop reopening in England and Wales will also include…
- Socially distanced product demonstrations.
- Safe use of testers with squeaky clean individual spatulas and non contact procedures.
- Lush will be providing face coverings for staff to use, asking customers to wear a mask if they can, and adhere to local social distancing requirements.
- A continuous cleaning rota will be in place.
- Customers will be invited to wash their hands as soon as they arrive in store either with their own piece of soap peel, or Lush hand sanitiser.
- Shops will have pre-filled sample pots of some of their most popular products, complete with a tamper proof seal. All shops welcome customers to try samples so they can try before they buy.
- Till points have recycled and recyclable perspex screens installed.
Shops will also be supported through tech advances such as Lush Lens. Designed by Lush’s in-house tech R&D team to offer customers a packaging-free and contact-free shopping experience. Customers can download the new and improved Lush app on android and iOS and scan unpackaged products (over 50% of Lush’s range) in-store. The phone’s camera and Machine Learning are able to recognise products and give the customer detailed ingredient information, price and ‘how to use’ demonstrations through immersive videos via the app. The feature is available in 30 countries and 20 different languages.
M&S has also reopened across England and Wales.
The retailer said that around two thirds of customers are “looking forward” to dressing up in smarter or more stylish clothes than they have worn in lockdown.
Online demand for dresses has steadily grown since the end of February and last week M&S saw search increases for sandals & sunglasses, with its “new in” womenswear page now the most visited on M&S.com.
M&S’s “Bring On” campaign will put a spotlight on the products customers are searching for online as social events start to return and the summer season kicks off – from relaxed tailoring in soft fabrics perfect for outdoor gatherings, to denim staples. The campaign will extend across M&S Food.
M&S head of clothing and home for retail Alison Grainger told us…….
“We know lots of customers are excited about dressing up for picnics and alfresco dining with friends & family and our stores will be bursting with tiered dresses, pretty tops and new seasonal denim.
Whilst it’s no longer all just about loungewear, as you would expect we’re going to be dedicating more space to casualwear in our shops than pre-pandemic.
In store customers will also see wardrobe essentials redefined – with relaxed t-shirts and sweats which have now become mainstays updated in fresh, vibrant colours.
Optimistic slogan tops have been popular online, and I think lots of customers will pick these up when they visit us in store.”
Meanwhile, M&S will allow customers at 250 stores which sell lingerie to choose from a contact-free bra fit from its expert colleagues, or a virtual at home appointment with an M&S expert via video.
PRIMARK too has reopened with large queues waiting to get into their stores, with measures fully in place to keep shoppers safe.
Prior to opening Primark told us……
“We are really looking forward to welcoming our customers back to our stores in Wales on the provisional re-opening date of April 12.
“Safety remains our top priority so that employees and customers can return to Primark with confidence.
Things will be different in store, similar to the last reopening. The safety measures in place include………..
- Strict social distancing measures
- A limit on the number of customer allowed in store
- Face coverings while queuing and in-store
- Hand sanitisation stations at store entrances
- Perspex screens sand cubicles at till points
- Increased in-store cleaning
“We know our customers will love our amazing new Spring/Summer ranges; bright leisurewear in spring pastels, as well as some exciting new collaborations with Disney and Pineapple, will all be in-store when we re-open.
“We don’t do seasonal sales, but customers can expect our normal great value prices across all of our clothing, accessories, beauty and homeware.”
The Primark stores across South Wales now reopened include – the St David’s Centre in Cardiff, Cwmbran Shopping Centre in Newport on Commercial Street and Trostre Retail Park in Llanelli.
Primark has also reopened its 153 stores in England.
Bookmakers too will be reopening, like WILLIAM HILL who said…..
‘We’re pleased to let you know that our shops in Wales will re-open from Monday 12th April.
Safety measures remain in place to keep our colleagues and customers safe, including social distancing and hand sanitiser stations.’