Sixty percent of retailers in England said they will open their showroom by appointment only when restrictions lift on April 12, according to a kbbreview survey.
Four out of 10 respondents said they would still be offering virtual appointments to those customers who prefer not to come into the showroom in person.
All respondents said they would maintain social distancing rules within the showroom even if it is open for anyone to walk in without an appointment. This would include keeping a 2m distance and limiting the number of people allowed in at one time.
Screens, compulsory wearing of face masks and sanitising stations were also often mentioned to ensure that both staff and customers remain safe during appointments or when browsing.
Richard Hanley, a sales and design consultant at Kitchen Creations by Ability in Chester, has implemented an appointment-only system with time allotted for sanitising the showroom.
He said: “We have Track and Trace at the door, with a signing-in sheet. We have hand sanitisers at certain points in the showroom. We will have appointment-only visits with two-and-a-half hours allocated, allowing 30 mins for cleaning the showroom down.”
Diane Berry, owner of Diane Berry Kitchens in Manchester, sees some benefits in making her showroom appointment-only but has some concerns over customers who refuse to wear masks.
She said: “We are running an appointment system, but for the first time allowing more than one couple in at a time. We like the locked door as it offers us a degree of safety along with control. We have a lot of female staff so it really is a lovely feeling of safety when the door is locked and people ring a bell, so hoping to keep this system for the future.
“The thing I seem to find a challenge s getting clients to wear masks in their own home, they all want to say “I have had the jab, or I get regularly tested or the masks are useless and don’t work anyway.” It is really quite strange working out how strict to be as you don’t want to alienate or question a client.”
For Kate Holderness, owner of Urban Kitchens in Preston, her main concern is the safety of her staff and clients. She said: “We will still adhere to the rules and precautions we implemented last year. Keeping the showroom clean and user-friendly with 2m rules and masks, visors, etc. My staff’s safety and the safety of our clients is still paramount.”
Alan Margetts, managing director of The Kitchen Store in Hove, will have a strict procedure for customers coming into the showroom. He explained: “The same as in 2020, customers must wait in an area to be greeted, they must sanitise their hands and, probably until the summer, will be asked to put on a pair of disposable gloves.
“We won’t limit the quantity of people in store as we have space and won’t be crowded. Our home visits will remain shorter for dimension-taking, with remote [consultations] playing a greater role than before Covid. However, face-to-face will have a greater role once again.”
For those choosing to remain open to all, there will be restrictions about how many people are allowed in.
Kristjan Lilley, sales manager at H Lilley and Company in Bexley, said: “We will keep with mainly appointments, however walk-ins are welcome. We will limit the amount of people in the shop and maintain all of the Government’s advice by adhering to 2m spacing.”
Tony Passmore, managing director of the Passmore Group in Leeds, said he would limit visitors to eight people in each of the showrooms. He said: “We will limit the number of customers at any one time to allow adequate social distancing – up to a maximum of eight people. Masks will be mandatory as well as sanitising.”