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Full list of retailers permitted to open on 15 June revealed, but Gove warns of different experience

Lauretta Roberts
26 May 2020

The Government has released a full list of "non-essential retailers" permitted to open from 15 June – but Minister for the Cabinet Office Michael Gove has told shoppers to expect a very different experience, including not being able to try on clothes.

Last night the Prime Minister Boris Johnson put the retail industry on notice that it would be permitted to open on 15 June, having previously indicated a phased approach to retail re-opening would take place on 1 June. Those permitted to open from 1 June are car showrooms and outdoor markets.

Those retailers on the list for 15 June include the following (though some of these are already open due to being in the essential category):

– Food retailers

– Chemists

– Hardware/homeware stores

– Fashion shops

– Charity shops

– Betting shops and arcades

– Tailors, dress fitters and fashion designers

– Car dealerships

– Auction houses

– Antique stores

– Retail art galleries

– Photography studios

– Gift shops and retail spaces in theatres, museums, libraries, heritage sites and tourism sites

– Mobile phone stores

– Indoor and outdoor markets

– Craft fairs

– Similar types of retail

Those retailers already open, such as food stores, pharmacies, bike stores, homewares stores and off-licenses are permitted to remain open.

The Prime Minister had encouraged shoppers to return to stores to help kick-start the economy but Gove has told them to prepare for a different experience.

He told BBC Breakfast on Tuesday: “It’s also the case that we need to ensure that some of the shopping habits people may have grown used to in the pre-Covid days are habits that we exercise a degree of restraint on.

“So when it comes to touching and testing goods, when it comes to trying on clothing, when it comes to trying make-up and so on, that all of us exercise restraint in not doing that and recognising that as these stores reopen, it is a new normal, but it will allow us to ensure there are a wider range of goods and will also ensure the economy can return to a new normal, that is absolutely vital for people’s jobs.”

To be allowed to open, retailers must adhere to the Government's COVID-19 safety guidelines, which include ensuring safe social distancing for staff and customers, the provision of sanitisers and protective screens at checkout.

Some retailers had been planning for safe opening of fitting rooms, such as only opening them on request and quarantining any stock that has been tried on for 24 hours. Returns to store would also be quarantined before being put back on sale.

However the Government guidance on re-opening (which can be read in full here) suggests that fitting rooms should be closed "wherever possible" and that where they need to be open, such as for key workers buying protective clothing, they should be cleaned between each use.

For larger retailers the inability to provide fitting rooms (one of the key benefits of shopping in-store versus online) is likely to drive a move to technology-driven solutions such as virtual try-on services or digital fit advice. Beauty retailers have been trialling digital try-on services for some time and, again, this is likely to accelerate.

Last week footwear retailer Kurt Geiger released its re-opening plans which included the quarantining of any shoes tried on in-store and the provision of new pop socks for each customer wishing to try shoes.

Before reopening, retailers must consider who is essential to be on the premises, plan for the minimum number of people needed on site and keep across the mental and physical wellbeing of staff, the Government has said.

Clinically vulnerable workers can return to work, with the Government saying they “should be offered the option of the safest available on-site roles, enabling them to stay 2m away from others”, if working from home is not an option.

However, the Government has so far declined to bring forward any legislation to legally protect workers beyond the current health and safety laws.

Unions have been calling for changes to protect staff, but the PM has said businesses should use “common sense”.

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