Woman in a safety mask looking at clothes in a shop

What to expect when shops reopen on April 12th 2021

Following another easing of the UK lockdown rules, many high street and department stores are set to reopen their doors on Monday 12th April.

Our shopping sprees are set to look a little different in the Covid-era, however, and it’s likely you may have some questions about what shopping on the high street will look like next week.

Every shopping question answered before you hit the high street…

Q. Will my shopping experience be different?

A. Yes. As well as mandatory face masks, stores will likely only allow a certain amount of shoppers in at one time to maintain distancing, or, will operate a one-way system around the store.

Q. Will every shop be open?

A. The full list of non-essential retail that is allowed to reopen on Monday 12th April includes: clothing and homeware stores, vehicle showrooms (other than for rental), betting shops, tailors, tobacco and vape shops, electronic goods and mobile phone shops, auction houses (except for auctions of livestock and agricultural equipment), and market stalls selling non-essential goods.

Q. Are fitting rooms open?

A. Yes, but staff will need to sanitise the fitting rooms between each customer, and stores will likely open fewer rooms to allow for distancing.

‘Clothes that are tried on will be put to one side for 72 hours, or if needed before that for others to try, they’ll be steam cleaned,’ notes Olaf Hernandez, store manager at Essentiel Antwerp. These extra processes may make the wait for a fitting room longer but offers the ease of trying before buying.

Q. Can I make an online return in-store?

A. The majority of stores will likely allow for this, but be sure to double-check their return policy window beforehand. If you’re unsure and are able to, make your returns via post to be safe.

Q. Will opening times be affected?

A. To ensure stores are less crowded, retailers will be allowed to open until 10pm from Monday to Saturday, though individual store times will vary. It’s likely those on main high streets and in shopping centres will remain open until 10pm.

Q. Will I have to queue outside?

A. This will vary from store to store. To maintain social distancing, some stores will probably only allow a certain number of customers in at a time, and as shops are expecting to be busy on Monday, a queue may be necessary.

Q. Will Click & Collect be available?

A. Larger stores such as M&S and Next have confirmed they’ll still be offering their popular Click & Collect service, where customers shop online but choose to pick up their parcels in store.

A. Yes – and lots of it. Plus, lots of last summer’s stock has will now be available. A host of brands are also running spring sales at the moment, so there are lots of bargains, too.

Q. Can I go shopping with someone from a different household?

A. Shopping alone or with your own household or support bubble will be required for now.

Q. When’s the best time to shop?

A. Given that the government has allowed for retailers to remain open until 10pm from Monday to Saturday, the traditional ‘peak’ hours where shops are at their busiest, will hopefully change. As such, there shouldn’t be a need to get there first thing in the morning, or in the evening before they close, as footfall will be under control throughout the day.