Tips for Reading retailers on re-opening

M&S Reading’s Store Manager, Charles Pinner, shares his top tips as retailers plan to reopen their doors

Our Reading Central BID team met up with Charles Pinner, Store Manager of Reading’s Marks & Spencer, to hear more about what they’ve learned since re-opening their stores. Charles shared his top tips on keeping everyone safe and increasing customer confidence as shops begin to open once again. 

  1. Make safety your top priority
    Safety of staff and customers is paramount and mustn’t be taken for granted. Safety should be the number one priority when reopening any retail store, big or small.
  2. Talk to your staff
    It’s really important to train and communicate with staff, every day. Don’t forget though, communication must work both ways - your employees will no doubt have some great ideas on solving problems on the shop floor, so remember to be open to them.
  3. Talk to your customers
    We all know how important communicating with customers is, but it’s even more so when we’re communicating vital safety measures such as why there may be queues or social distancing reminders. Make sure employees controlling queues are confident with this, especially if they need to deal with customers who may be more anxious than others.
  4. Use PPE
    Protective equipment is important to protect the safety of both customers and employees and should be a key part of your reopening plans. Screens and barriers at tills have been very well received by customers.
  5. Add visible floor markings
    Floor markers are a good way to remind customers about social distance and visibly show where they should stand - many customers stand directly on the markers to make sure they’re being compliant. Marking off 2m sections within aisles has worked very well too and is helpful to reassure shoppers as they move around your store.
  6. Analyse and adapt
    It’s important to look carefully at the flow of your customers and adapt your safety measures and communications where needed. Sometimes the route and behaviours you think customers may use, turn out to be different. Retailers must remain alert and be flexible to changes.
  7. Remove obstacles
    Take a look around your own retail space in advance, look for pinch points and remove any obstacles such as free-standing shop fittings, product displays, or any objects that may impede the flow of customers. This may mean you have to remove goods from the shop floor, or restock them elsewhere, but it’s important to keep pathways clear.
  8. Allow time for regular hand washing
    At M&S, our employees are required to take the time to clean their hands every 20 minutes. This may be using hand sanitiser they carry with them or using soap and water in the staff areas. This should be a non-negotiable activity and staff must be given time to do this.
  9. Be flexible to changing requirements
    Every day is different, accept that.  Legal requirements, government announcements and customer ebbing and flowing will change on a daily basis.  Keep watching and reading and be prepared to change ‘on the hoof’.
  10. Clean when customers can see
    Visual cleaning is very important, if customers see your staff cleaning throughout the day it gives confidence that you are taking this situation seriously on their behalf too.

We’d like to say a huge thank you to Charles for taking the time to share his insight with other Reading businesses. For more information on how to safely reopen your store, take a look at our guidance here.


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