Next sets out plans for re-opening stores
Next has revealed its plans for the re-purposing of its stores in preparation for their re-opening once covid-19 lockdown restrictions are eased.
Some of the measures introduced in-store will include till screens, distance marking walkways, sanitisation stations and exit and entry management systems.
The fashion and homewares retailer said its large out-of-town stores will be the first to re-open as the stores can be more easily adapted to include social distancing measures.
On 26 March, Next temporarily closed its UK warehouses and distribution networks following the raising of safety concerns by staff. During the 18 days of closure, Next re-organised all aspects of its warehousing to facilitate social distancing and improved sanitation.
Next said: “We re-opened our warehouse picking operation on Tuesday 14 April, the ramp-up of operations is necessarily slow; staff inductions need to be conducted in small numbers to ensure that colleagues are completely familiar with new ways of working.
“As each day goes by, we have steadily increased the numbers of people working in our operations and the capacity at which we are able to operate. We hope to increase capacity to around 70% of normal levels within the next two weeks.”
Next also said that the threat of the pandemic did not significantly affect retail sales until the beginning of March. It added: “We saw a material impact in the second week of March and declines accelerated as each day went by. In the three days before stores closed on Monday 23 March, retail sales were down 86%. In reality, the majority of our customers had decided to stop shopping in retail stores before the order came to close them.”
From 26 January to 25 April, Next’s full price product sales fell by 41%. This included a 32% drop in online sales and a 52% decline in Next’s stores.