JOHN Lewis is planning to open another nine stores next Thursday after successfully welcoming back customers at 13 shops this week.
The department store began a phased reopening of its UK outlets on Monday, as lockdown rules for the high street were eased.
The latest round of John Lewis department stores to reopen from June 25 will be Cribbs Causeway in Bristol, Leeds, Liverpool, Milton Keynes, Newcastle, Peter Jones, Southampton, Tunbridge Wells and York.
This is in addition to the two stores that opened on Monday in Kingston and Poole, and the 11 that began trading again from Thursday.
These include Bluewater, Cambridge, Cheadle, Cheltenham, High Wycombe, Horsham, Ipswich, Norwich, Nottingham, Solihull and Welwyn.
Bérangère Michel, executive director for customer service at the retailer said that it was already applying learnings made from this week’s openings’ to next week’s.
So far they’ve found that they can increase the number of customers allowed in a store at the same time while still be able to maintain social distancing rules.
It has also improved in-store signs that have been put up to make sure that shoppers stay at least two metres apart.
He added: “We are still reopening our shops carefully and in phases to ensure that our safety measures are absolutely right, and remain prepared to stop and review our plans if need be.”
John Lewis has put measures in place to keep staff and customers safe when they are shopping – but it means stores will look quite different to before lockdown.
Aside from the social distancing signs and fewer customers in store, branches will undergo a regular and rigorous cleaning regime.
Hand sanitiser stations have been put up around the shops and there are new “contactless” drop boxes for returns.
New “customer service hosts” will be on hand to help manage queues and customer numbers in the store, which John Lewis says have already proved invaluable in reassuring shoppers that it’s safe to return.
Newly reopened stores have toilet and baby changing facilities but fitting rooms remain closed.
It’s also extended its returns policy to up to 35 days to get a refund.
Despite this, customers will still be able to touch products, lie on display beds and test wipeable products such as sunglasses, prams and tech products.
Mr Michel added: “Although we are not able to offer every single experience that we used to, we are still managing to offer customers a really varied shopping experience that is as close to normal and as enjoyable as we can possibly make it.”
More to follow…
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