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Retailers allowed to reopen fitting rooms from April 12

By PA News
Fitting rooms were closed at John Lewis in Kingston after non-essential shops in England opened their doors to customers for the first time after the first lockdown (Steve Parsons/PA)

Clothes shoppers will be able to use fitting rooms again after more than a year when non-essential shops reopen on April 12.

The Government has released new guidance on fitting rooms after advising shops after the first lockdown to keep changing rooms closed “wherever possible” unless essential.

Retailers have been calling for updated regulations in an effort to compete with online rivals, reduce return rates and restore faith in high street businesses.

The new guidance published by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) allows for fitting rooms to be reopened provided shops introduce measures to minimise transmission of the virus.

Stores are advised to deploy a staff member to control entry to changing areas and allow only one person at a time into a cubicle, with exceptions allowed for those who have disabilities or are shopping with children.

Managers are advised to leave a gap of “several minutes” between customers and cubicles should be cleaned regularly.

The guidance adds that retailers should create “procedures to manage clothes that have been tried on, to minimise contact between customers and staff”.

However, it stops short of advising that items should be quarantined after customers have tried them on.

The guidance says: “The enclosed nature of fitting rooms may result in increased risk of transmission of Covid-19. They should therefore be carefully managed to reduce that risk.

“Retail businesses should update their risk assessments for each premises where fitting rooms are being used.”

A Government spokeswoman said: “We have set out our road map to reopen the economy and have recently published updated safer workplace guidance having worked closely with retailers, trade unions and medical experts so that businesses can reopen in a way that is as safe as possible for workers and customers.”

Marks & Spencer said it will be opening with a contact-free bra fitting service, which customers must book, in 50 of its biggest stores, but said its current intention was not to open all of its fitting rooms straight away.

The high street stalwart added that the service will also be available for customers on its website via an online bra fit offer after initial trials of the service during lockdown.

The biggest stores will also offer the Pay with Me service that was first trialled over Christmas in M&S Food outlets which allows customers with a bra fit appointment to buy their lingerie via a handheld payment device, removing the need to visit a till.

M&S said adapting its bra-fitting service to include the option of the online platform was part of wider plans from its lingerie department to offer customers “more relevant products and services for a post-Covid world”.

A survey carried out by M&S found 65% of its lingerie customers were excited to return to the shops.

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