Apr 7, 2021
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Fitting rooms: retailers divided on whether to reopen them next week

Apr 7, 2021

News that John Lewis is planning to open most of its fitting rooms when it reopens it stores next week may have been encouraging, but it seems that not every retailer is planning on doing likewise — at least not at first.

John Lewis

Chains such as H&M and River Island will be opening fitting rooms, but Next hasn't come to a decision yet and Primark and M&S aren’t planning to allow customers to try on items on during the initial reopening period.

But late last month, M&S did say it will allow no-contact bra fitting in stores by appointment. That will mean a staff member guiding the customer through the self-measurement process. Bra fitting has always been a key selling points for M&S and it's clearly keen to bring it back as soon as possible.

Government guidelines were put in place last year that led to most retailers keeping the fitting rooms closed and while safety guidelines are still in place, they have been liberalised somewhat for this month’s reopening.

Previously, fitting rooms were meant to be be kept closed where possible in order to minimise the risk of coronavirus infection. When they were in use, requirements included regular cleaning, ensuring doors and curtains remained open when fitting rooms weren't being used and regular breaks between use. Guidance also included steaming clothes that have been tried on or quarantining them for several days.

Given the extra costs and work this involved, it meant many retailers prefer to avoid offering the try-on option altogether, even though it removed a unique feature from the physical shopping experience.

The updated guidance also includes regular cleaning and provision of hygiene products such as hand sanitiser, but it’s less stringent in terms of the steps shops have to take around fitting rooms. For instance, new guidance suggests a gap of several minutes between customers using a fitting room should be enough, rather than longer periods.

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