Despite a lack of guidance from the prime minister during last night’s speech, many jewellers are continuing to make sure they are ready when non-essential retailers are allowed to open for business.
From last night’s speech, it appears this could happen in early June, which gives jewellers three weeks or so to prepare their stores for new safety and social distancing measures.
For Andrew Berry, an independent jewellery retailer based in South Wales, the main concern is protecting staff and customers from cross infection.
Namesake owner, Andrew Berry, tells Professional Jeweller: “The idea of reopening after being ‘locked down’ for six weeks is certainly a daunting thought and will be met with mixed responses. Undoubtedly most of us will be eager to get back to normal life, but many team members and customers will be nervous about the health and safety implications that this brings.
“We have all been told ‘Stay Home – Stay Safe’, implying that anywhere else is potentially unsafe. So how can we reassure our team and customers that our environment is somewhere they can attend with confidence, in the knowledge that we are doing everything we can to help them feel safe?”
Berry acknowledges that it will be important for jewellers to carry out similar measures to essential retailers, as proposed in the BRC’s guidelines.
In particular the jewellery store owner has identified the following steps as key for his business reopening:
- A deep clean and declutter and maintain this daily. Surfaces will need to remain completely clutter free to make sure everything can be effectively decontaminated.
- Measure customer and staff areas. Rooms, desks and benches may need to be moved around.
- Identify areas which are likely to be touched. Berry plans to draw up a checklist of these areas to be sanitised between customers, only admitting the next customer in when this has been completed.
- Purchase PPE, including gloves, masks, hand sanitiser, handwash, disinfectant wipes and/or spray, keyboard covers (each staff member will have a cover for personal use), single use PDQ covers and countertop screens. All staff will be told how to look after PPE and how frequently these need to be changed and disposed of.
- Mark out 2 metres areas – Berry plans to use floor tape on the shop floor and pavement outside
- Determine how many customers can be allowed in the shop at any one time whilst staying 2m apart.
- Signage – Berry will be creating window signs to explain the new systems and clear signs inside for customer flow and waiting areas taking distances into account.
- Determine how many customers can be in the store whilst abiding by social distancing measures.
On the last point, Berry believes he will only be able to allow customers in one at a time as the shop is relatively small.
To enforce this, the jeweller is looking into systems to ‘buzz’ customers in and out of the store, maintaining safe distances for staff and for customers on their way in.
Andrew Berry will also be looking at how he can maximise his window space.
He shares: “Placing as much stock in the window as possible could mean customers are not wandering around a small shop for as long.”
The jeweller knows that window shopping will also need to be monitored though, and will be ensuring social distancing measures are observed outside the shop as well as inside.
Looking ahead to opening day, Berry will not be allowing customers to try jewellery on for the time being, but will relax the store’s return policy in order to give customers peace of mind.
The jeweller will continue to take in repairs, but these will be carefully managed.
Berry advices fellow jewellers to consider similar points as mentioned above in order to help staff and customers feel confident when the store doors re-open.
He says: “By discussing these points with your team, you can formulate an infection control policy together, so everyone knows what their rights are and what is expected of them.
“For larger stores consider appointing an ‘infection control deputy’ – someone who can lead and help you monitor and enforce this policy. It is important also to communicate these measures to your customers so they know what to expect when they attend and feel reassured that they will be well looked after.”
He continues: “We will be writing an article for our website explaining our procedures to keep everybody safe. These are massive changes which place significant pressure and additional responsibility on our teams, so a nurturing and positive approach must be adopted as we support them during this adaptive phase until a ‘new normal’ has been established.”