As non-essential shops have been provisionally given the green light to reopen from next week, brands across the UK are eagerly anticipating the influx of customers looking to embrace ‘the new normal’.
With England having been in lockdown since March 23 – and only essential shopping permitted – long queues outside the likes of B&Q and McDonalds should promise great things for the future of the UK high street.
Yet, as retailers up-and-down the country prepare for their big day – the question remains as to whether they will receive the same level of demand, or if consumers will simply continue to purchase non-essential goods online.
When footfall does return to town centres, the key to success will be evidencing Coronavirus-combatting credentials to passers-by – and having strict rules in place to protect staff and customers. So, when we do venture back into our favourite retail outlet, what changes can we expect to see?
1. Informative window vinyl – In place of the eye-catching ‘sale’ signage we’re used to seeing adorning the shopfront, these repositionable full colour graphics will now be deployed to advertise the fact that a store is open for business – as well as to communicate any safety instructions to people prior to entering the building.
2. Floor graphics – Although nothing new, since the onset of COVID-19, we’ve seen these durable stickers being used by supermarkets and pharmacies to remind customers (and staff) of the social distancing measures in place. Ideal for areas of high traffic and footfall, expect to see them depicting a set walking route around a store – or to keep shoppers apart when queuing to pay.
3. Wall signage – While instructions to ‘wash your hands’ are not unusual when it comes to public bathrooms, we expect to see plenty more signs encouraging good hygiene. From sanitising stations at the entrance, in changing rooms and next to the till, these easy-to-remove stickers will be clinging to almost every window, mirror and wall, to remind shoppers of their obligations.
4. Hanging graphics – For bigger stores, these large-format options are a great way of reiterating the overarching (pardon the pun) message that the store owner wants to get across. Suspended above head height, these infographics not only capture our attention, but raise awareness of social distancing rules, hygiene, and health and safety measures in place.
5. Table graphics – Until recently, we didn’t give much thought to sitting down at a desk or table moments after it had been vacated. Now though, we’ll be waiting for a deep clean to be completed. Whether in a coffee shop, restaurant or shared office space, ‘keep your distance’ stickers will soon become just another standard feature of our day-to-day lives.
6. Sneeze screens – Those who have already ventured outside will have no doubt come across these clear dividers already. Although it can feel as though you’re in the middle of a sci-fi movie set, such installations are a fantastic barrier for airborne germs, and are one of the main ‘weapons’ in our first steps towards the ‘new normal’.
7. Sanitation stations – One of the biggest hurdles for retailers to overcome, is the sense that anything within the store could be covered in bacteria. While it’s impossible to prevent shoppers from picking up – and putting back – items, sanitation stations will help to ensure employees, visitors and customers can follow hand hygiene advice and help beat COVID-19.
8. Antibacterial film – Less invasive than other PPE options, the high street will soon be inundated with surfaces covered in this transparent plastic. It’s perfect for surfaces such as touchscreens, keypads, lift buttons and worktables – and helps to reduce the spread of germs.
9. Mobile screen dividers – Much like the sneeze screens, these mobile barriers will not only help to divide the retail environment, but also serve to control the flow of people. While branded barriers will likely aid with queues to enter a store, these will prove essential once inside – particularly during busy periods.
10. Face masks – a subject of much debate, the UK Government is now advising the general public to wear face protection where possible. Therefore, expect to see shopworkers in branded PPE – but be prepared to don your own too.