Non-essential retail – guidance for reopening?

The government last week announced that from the 15th June, non-essential retail shops can re-open to the public. That has given retailers around two weeks to plan a return to action in a safe manner. To help non-essential retailers, we have provided a bit of guidance on a safe return to work.

Keeping a social distance in non-essential retail shops

The UK government has said that to keep a safe environment in shops, a 2M social distance should be maintained. This can be done by displaying floor markings, having one-way system aisles and limiting the number of customers in store. For some shops this may be difficult as there may not currently be enough space to introduce social distancing measures. These shops should reconfigure their space to reduce the stock on the shop floor and increase aisle space. Storage containers are ideal for keeping stock away from the shop floor, but close enough to recall it when needed.

Keeping your shop clean

The government advice to frequently check and clean stock and surfaces will be difficult for non-essential retail shops. There are a number of factors to consider, for example do they have frequently touched objects such as display items? Are the checkouts accessible to customers? Do they have lifts or escalators? All are factors that need to be accounted for. Should display items be covered, should checkouts have protective coverings and should lifts, and escalators be temporarily closed?

Another thing to consider is incoming stock. To prevent COVID-19 spread, many retailers, including Waterstones, are quarantining new stock for 72 hours. To help other retailers do this we are offering the first 72 hours of our container hires for free.


It’s going to be a strange return to work for non-essential retail shops. So long as the right measures are put in place to prevent the spread of coronavirus, this will be another step towards a return to normality and a much needed boost to the economy for retailers.