How shopping will change when non-essential stores reopen

With high-street shops, department stores and shopping centres reopening from June 15, major changes are being introduced in the way we will be allowed to shop to reduce the spread of coronavirus.

Retailers will follow the example of supermarkets and DIY chains, which have been limiting the number of shoppers with queue systems, as well as installing plastic screens and supplying face masks to staff. 

Closed changing rooms, one-way systems on the shop floor and restrictions on touching merchandise will also be introduced to reduce contamination.

Goods that have been returned to stores will be quarantined for up to 72 hours before they can be placed back on shelves.


Some stores have already announced changes. Kurt Geiger has said that it will set aside shoes that have been tried on for 24 hours before another customer is allowed to try them and Waterstones will put books to one side for 72 hours before going back on sale.

The government has stressed that the reopening of stores is contingent on progress in the fight against coronavirus and that retailers will have to demonstrate their premises are ‘Covid-secure’ before they are allowed to reopen. 

What changes will be implemented by stores under the new government guidelines

  • Stores will limit the number of shoppers – with queuing facilities or mobile apps to manage visitors
  • One-way systems and limits on the number store entrances open to control the flow of shoppers and ensure physical distancing of 2 metres
  • Hand sanitiser or handwashing stations at store entrances
  • Customers encouraged to shop alone
  • Changing rooms, toilets and cafes closed
  • Services that require close contact, such as makeup demonstrations, manicures, personal styling or bra-fitting suspended
  • Shoppers will be discouraged from handling products while browsing and stock that is frequently touched could be regularly replenished with fresh items
  • Protective covers on large items such as beds or sofas that may be tested by shoppers
  • Quarantining items that have been tried on or returned. For example shoes or clothes that have been tried on must be put in a container or separate room for 72 hours. Alternatively, items may be cleaned before being put back on display
  • Cleaning of rental equipment or test drive and rental vehicles after each customer use or handover
  • Perspex screens at tills to protect staff – and some may wear masks or visors
  • Staggered opening hours on high streets and in shopping centres to help with physical distancing and reduce pressure on public transport

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