British Retail Consortium unveils social distancing guidance for non-essential retailers in preparation for re-opening

The British Retail Consortium (BRC) has published some practical guidance for retailers to implement once non-essential shops can re-open.

Fashion stores in the UK have been forced to close since 23 March, however regulations are due to be reviewed by no later than Thursday 7 May. There is no more information yet, but it theoretically means some non-essential bricks-and-mortar retailers could resume trading in under a fortnight.

In preparation, the BRC published social distancing guidance for non-food retailers on 26 April, written in conjunction with the Union of Shop, Distribution and Allied Workers. It outlines non-exhaustive recommendations for retailers to consider. The suggestions are based on the experience of food retailers. 

“The guidance is designed to be operationally practical and should prove very useful for retailers in planning and preparing for how they will re-open once the current restrictions are lifted,” says By Nicky Strong of law firm Womble Bond Dickinson. “Retailers should also ensure that they discuss the plans with staff well in advance to allay any concerns and to provide reassurance on the measures to be put in place.”  

Current government guidance for essential retailers 

  • Using signage to direct movement into lanes, if feasible, while maintaining a two metre distance
  • Where it is possible to remain two metres apart, using floor markings to mark the distance, particularly in the most crowded areas (for example, where queues form)
  • Regulating the numbers entering the premises so that they do not become overcrowded
  • Using additional signage to ask customers not to enter the premises if they have symptoms
  • Placing plexiglass barriers at points of regular interaction as an additional element of protection for workers and customers
  • Clean and disinfect high traffic areas in line with standard cleaning procedures
  • Making regular announcements to remind staff and/or customers to follow social distancing advice and wash their hands regularly
  • Providing additional pop-up hand washing stations or facilities if possible, providing soap, water, hand sanitiser and tissues and encouraging staff and customers to use them.

BRC guidance for all retailers 

Outside stores
  • Limiting the number of entry and exit points into and out of store, with separate entrances and exits if possible
  • Using staff to meet and greet customers, to explain the social distancing requirements and control the number of customers entering store at any one time. Alternatively, using clear signage in multiple areas to explain the measures in place
  • Using markings to set out the two metre distancing space between customers and creating temporary barriers to manage queues outside stores;
  • Reminding customers to shop alone where possible
  • Scheduling deliveries appropriately to avoid over-crowding in delivery areas.
Inside stores
  • Providing disinfectant wipes or spray and tissues for trolley/basket handles
  • Regular cleaning of key contact points – door handles, lift buttons, keypads, stair/escalator hand rails
  • Considering the implementation of a one-way system to help maintain social distancing
  • Reviewing the store layout to ensure aisles/walkways are as clear as possible, and removing promotional stands or features where necessary
  • Clean screens and self check outs regularly, preferably after each use
  • Close changing rooms or monitor so social distance requirement can be met
  • Limiting customer seating in store, and spacing this out appropriately
  • Setting up specific advice/assistance areas if required, and introducing safe methods to allow potential buyers to try products
  • Assess if toilets should open or accessible only on request with a review of the cleaning frequency and procedures.
  • Baby changing areas should remain open but the cleaning frequency of these should be reviewed.

The full guidance is available on the BRC website.

Photo by Anastasiia Chepinska on Unsplash