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Confusion reigns as supermarkets seal off clothing in certain stores

Gaelle Walker
09 November 2020

Supermarkets have been forced to take urgent action to seal off clothing and general merchandise in stores where they are sold on separate floors from essential items such as food, following a government clarification on the new national lockdown rules.

The change has led to widespread consumer confusion over the weekend, reports in the national press suggest.

Updated guidance published 24 hours after the lockdown came into force on 5 November stated that while retailers selling essential items, such as food were not required to cordon off non-essential items, they must close non-essential departments if they were located in separate buildings or on separate floors.  

The move has led to many shoppers taking to social media to complain over closures in Sainsbury’s and Tesco stores over the weekend with the Mirror reporting “Tesco shoppers furious after non-essential goods barricaded with beer and chocolates.”

Commenting on the updated restrictions a spokeswoman for Tesco told TheIndustry.Fashion:“In line with new government guidance in England which requires the closure of separate floors selling non-food items, we have closed the Clothing and General Merchandise departments in our stores that sell these products from a separate mezzanine level.

In line with government guidance, clothing, general merchandise and Tesco mobile shops will stay open if they are located on the main shop floor. 

The updated rules also led to Marks & Spencer closing off clothing & home departments in stores where they operated on separate floors, having initially said its full-range stores (which house a food and clothing & home) would remain fully open during England's second lockdown.

England's second lockdown is due to come to an end on 2 December. Meanwhile a two-week firebreak lockdown in Wales came to an end today with shoppers allowed to return to non-essential stores.

Supermarkets in Wales were obliged to cordon off non-essential items in stores during the firebreak, whether or not they were on separate floors.

The current guidelines on non-essential and mixed retail can be read here.

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