// John Lewis to reopen first two stores on June 15, followed by a further 11 on June 18
// There are plans to reopen more stores “throughout the summer”, depending on response to the first openings
// John Lewis also detailed the new social distancing measures in place to protect shoppers & staff
John Lewis Partnership has revealed new details about the lockdown exit strategy for its department stores, including the locations of the first batch of stores to reopen.
The partnership said it would first reopen two John Lewis stores on June 15, followed by a further 11 on June 18 as part of a phased reopening plan to welcome customers back into its shops again.
The reopened stores will feature new social distancing measures in place to protect shoppers and staff.
- John Lewis prepares for phased re-opening from mid-June
- Coronavirus: John Lewis reveals changes in shopping habits
- John Lewis may never reopen some stores post lockdown
The update comes two days after Prime Minister Boris Johnson gave non-essential retailers, including fashion shops and department stores, the go-ahead to reopen to the public from June 15.
John Lewis Partnership said it planned to reopen more John Lewis branches “throughout the summer”, depending on how customers and staff respond to the first openings.
However, the partnership would not confirm how many John Lewis stores in total are included in the phased reopening plan, after reports emerged last month that it was “highly unlikely” all 50 would reopen and that discussions had started on which ones to close permanently.
A spokesperson told Retail Gazette that “decisions on our estate are made to ensure the long-term financial sustainability of the partnership and it is far too early to make a decision”.
Nonetheless, it confirmed that the John Lewis stores in Poole and Kingston will be the first two sites to swing their doors back open.
On June 18 these will be followed by: Bluewater, Cambridge, Cheadle, Cheltenham, High Wycombe, Horsham, Ipswich, Norwich, Nottingham, Solihull and Welwyn.
Shoppers will also be faced with a different shopping experience to before the lockdown, with John Lewis introducing a raft of health and safety measures, including social distancing practices already in place at stablemate Waitrose, which has remained open during the lockdown.
The partnership said fitting rooms and in-store cafes would remain shut until further notice and that would be a reduction in the availability of customer services, such as beauty services.
The number of store entrances will also be reduced, and there will be a cap on the number of shoppers in stories as part of the new measures.
John Lewis said it would also have “customer service hosts” who will be assigned to welcome customers, answer questions and manage queues in busy areas of shops.
The partnership said the John Lewis branches selected to reopen have been chosen primarily because of their accessibility by car.
The retailer temporarily closed all of its 50 department stores on March 23, a day before the government-mandated lockdown came into place, for the first time in its 155-year history.
Last month, the partnership warned John Lewis annual sales could plunge by 35 per cent in a worst-case scenario as a result of the outbreak.
with PA Wires