England’s retailers finally have a provisional date for the reopening of bricks-and-mortar stores.
If the Government is happy with the Covid data over the coming weeks then retailers will be permitted to reopen their doors to the public on 12 April.
Much as after the UK’s first national lockdown last spring, and after the second English lockdown in November, the return to physical shopping could be a reluctant one on the part of shoppers.
Not to mention, health and safety restrictions will still be in full force in stores.
With this is mind, and with little more than a month to go, what are jewellery retailers planning for the big reopening? Professional Jeweller has spoken to some of the UK’s top jewellers to find out.
PJ: What plans have you put in place for when non-essential retail is permitted to reopen?
Michael Wainwright, managing director, Boodles: Sales staff coming off furlough from 1 March to make contact with their customers from home. Make sure all the premises are health and safety compliant.
Try and arrange events in May and June once gatherings will be permitted. We are taking the opportunity whilst we are still shut to do some shop fitting in two of our shops.
Craig Bolton, UK executive director, Watches of Switzerland Group: We are very rehearsed in reopening our stores after closure periods. We have invested heavily in making our showrooms Covid-secure, so that they are safe and welcoming places for our staff and clients.
We are encouraging pre-booked appointments wherever possible so we can manage numbers effectively and in no way compromise the experience of shopping in our showrooms.
Do you have any concerns about the reopening stage?
MW: No concerns, we are eager to get back.
CB: We are very well prepared. We know that our showrooms are safe and our teams are excited to get back to doing what they love.
It will inevitably take time for consumers to regain confidence in shopping on the high street, but we do believe that this will come.
We have confidence in the Government and the reopening date they have provided based on the successful roll out of the vaccine and reduction in number of cases.
What can brands do to support retailers at this time?
CB: We cannot thank our brand partners enough for the support over the past 12 months. They have continued to provide us with great allocations of stock and supported us in the launch of many new initiatives that we have launched.
How do you see business faring in the first few weeks back?
MW: I am optimistic as I think there is a degree of pent up demand. Also, many of our clients are top-end clients, spend a significant part of the year travelling. And if they are not able to travel, but are able to shop, hopefully it will result in busier shops.
CB: We have opened up our appointment books now and already we have a high number of appointments scheduled. We are hopeful this is a sign of how business will fare over the first few weeks and months.