Health Secretary Matt Hancock has praised John Lewis for suspending its Click & Collect services after the retailer said it had made the move to help suppress the spread of COVID-19 by encouraging shoppers to stay at home.
Under the current lockdown guidelines retailers are permitted to offer Click & Collect as an option for online shoppers, as long as goods are collected off the premises (which usually means goods are brought to a door and handed over during set periods), but Hancock said in an interview with the Today programme that he was “grateful” to the retailer for making the move and appeared to support others following suit.
“It is very, very important that everybody abides by the rules, and abides by the spirit of the rules, not just the letter … I’m grateful to John Lewis for the change they’ve made, and I’m grateful for the supermarkets for the increased compliance they’re going to require; that is by far and away the best way to get this under control,” Hancock said.
John Lewis announced yesterday that it would no longer be offering Click & Collect and introducing further Covid-secure measures such as requiring all customers to wear face masks in branches of Waitrose, unless they are exempt.
Andrew Murphy, Executive Director, Operations said: “We are acutely aware that the country is at a critical point in the pandemic and are constantly thinking about how best the Partnership and our Partners can play our part in limiting the spread and impact of the virus”.
“We’ve listened carefully to the clear change in tone and emphasis of the views and information shared by the UK’s governments in recent days. While we recognise that the detail of formal guidance has not changed, we feel it is right for us – and in the best interests of our Partners and customers – to take proactive steps to further enhance our covid-security and related operational policies.”
“By insisting on the wearing of face coverings, over and above the social distancing measures we already have in place, we aim to make our shops even safer for customers.”
“Meanwhile, we will reduce the range of services we are offering to carry out in customers’ homes, focusing only on those which are essential in order for customers to maintain their health and wellbeing and that of their families.”
“We also want to help the national effort by removing reasons for non essential travel, so we have decided to suspend Click & Collect services from our John Lewis shops.”
A number of major supermarket chains, such as Tesco, Aldi and Asda, have also said they would be refusing entry to any customer not wearing a face covering unless they are exempt from doing so. Some retailers have said they will be offering masks to customers who may have forgotten them.
Tesco also called on customers to “be kind” to staff who are trying to enforce the rules. “We are also asking our customers to shop alone, unless they’re a carer or with children. To support our colleagues, we will have additional security in stores to help manage this,” a Tesco spokesperson said.
With e-commerce the only sales channel open to non-essential retailers at the moment, it remains to be seen whether many will rush to follow John Lewis’s lead, particularly smaller independents who do not have fully functioning e-commerce but are taking orders by telephone for customers to collect at specified times during the day.