As the UK continues to face lockdown for the foreseeable future, many big chains and companies are starting to announce their next plans. B&Q has already reopened a selection of stores to their customers on a click and collect basis, while John Lewis has also voiced their hopes of being able to reopen next month despite the prime minister urging people to stay home.
They aren’t the only ones, however, looking to reopen. As of next week, Greggs is planning on opening 20 stores in the Newcastle area, ahead of a wider opening in June, despite the lockdown being in place.
The high street bakery announced the news on April 27th that they would be open for takeaway and delivery in certain stores on a controlled trial basis for two weeks from May 4th. Operating shorter opening hours and smaller product range, they have said: “We want to play our part in getting the nation back up and running again.”
It comes after Burger King, KFC, and Pret a Manger reopened, giving the UK the option to get their food delivered, and only very recently, McDonald’s. They announced that they would be reopening for both delivery and drive-thrus within a matter of weeks, too.
With the number of big chains announcing their reopening plans, Next has been the latest high street retailer to detail their plans during the COVID-19 lockdown. Although many chains are making plans to open during lockdown, Next has taken a slightly different approach.
Despite their sales plunging in recent weeks due to closure, and suspending their online operations for three weeks, the firm says they will only open once any restrictions on non-essential retailers, such as clothes shops, have been lifted.
In the first quarter, it has been reported that they have seen a 41% plunge in sales, and it is now estimated that this will continue to tumble by almost 62%. This economic crisis they are currently facing could disrupt their plans on opening. Nevertheless, in anticipation of opening in the future, they are already considering measures that they can put in place so that social distancing can still be implemented, including Perspex screens, distance markets, and hand sanitising stations.
The plan to only reopen after an easing of lockdown, however, won’t apply to all stores, either. To keep the public safe, they will only be opening its shops in retail parks as they have longer opening hours and will have fewer people in at any one time as a result.
Until Next reopens, and we remain in lockdown, they plan on improving their digital infrastructure so that they can increase the capacity and deliver more orders to their customers, which might aid them in their plunging sales.
The question that leaves many wondering, though, is whether those chains opening now will be able to continue. The success of reopening completely lies with the public. Richard Lim, chief executive of Retail Economics, has said: “The key question is whether consumers will be confident enough to return to shopping destinations when stores begin to reopen and whether the level of demand will be strong enough to make it commercially viable.”