Posted: 09/07/2020

Seven steps to staying safe as in-store footfall increases

We take a look at seven things for retailers to focus on as customers return to bricks-and-mortar stores in greater numbers, leaving shop owners juggling greater footfall and social distancing.

Seven steps to staying safe as in-store footfall increases
Signage and attentive staff are there to let Minskip Farm Shop’s customers know what is needed of them

Focus on customer service

It may be difficult with social distancing rules, a strict one-way system in place, and a mask covering your face but customer service is as important now as it ever will be. Take the time to have the same conversations you normally would do with your customers, and remember, if your staff don’t feel safe, this will reflect in their interactions with customers.

Strip back your range

If you are having to implement a one-way system or limit the numbers of customers in your store, consider stripping back your range. This doesn’t mean going right back to basics, but perhaps you don’t need 15 different jams and 25 chutneys to choose from. Things like selling pre-cut cheeses and meats will save you time and contact. Doing this will also help keep the experience fluid, more efficient and safer.


Make sure you communicate your key messages to your customers – be it through signs, or ideally verbally – to reduce confusion. Make your one-way system clear, signpost to your hand-wash stations and make sure they know where to queue and when to wait. Ensuring everybody knows what is expected of them and where to be will reduce stress and anxiety for all.

Seven steps to staying safe as in-store footfall increases
Bristol-based Papadeli has introduced a one way  system to maintain social distancing

PPE and safety systems

It’s an obvious one, but a big one. Having your PPE on and safety systems in place, like a hands-free door opening and Perspex screens, clearly communicates to your customers that you are taking their safety seriously. Not only this, but it will make your staff feel more comfortable, which in turn lifts customer experience. Do your research, and know that gloves and a mask are not a shortcut to safety.

Reduce contact

Walk the customers’ journey yourself and think of any ways to reduce any points of contact. This could be doors where every customer touches the handle, cluttered shelves or till points. Can you space your shop out and allow more room to socially distance by removing unnecessary shop furniture?

Seven steps to staying safe as in-store footfall increases
Wally’s deli in Cardiff has opened up a previously unused door to create a separate entrance and exit

Don’t drop the deliveries

If you have been running a successful home delivery or click & collect service during the COVID-19 outbreak, now is not the time to drop it. Not only does it bring in extra revenue, but these offerings are keeping the footfall in your store lower. 

Be prepared

You may not be able to re-open all aspects of your business just yet – like your café – but have a plan in place for how you will do that when you are able. Think about social distancing and whether the operation will be profitable if you have to reduce capacity. 

Read the latest issue of Fine Food Digest here.

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