Customers want safer shopping centres and shorter waiting times once shops re-open

According to a poll by Intu, almost 75% of customers want sanitisers in shopping centres and queue times reduced to 10-minutes from June 15.

Wednesday, 3rd June 2020, 12:30 pm

Shoppers said they would return to shopping centres but only if stores introduce compulsory hand sanitation, protective screens, limits on numbers and two metre markers, a survey has suggested.

The survey of 2,000 regular shopping centre visitors by Intu also found that more than 60% said they would actively encourage temperature scans on entering and leaving stores, with nearly two-thirds saying they would be happy to be monitored on CCTV to control crowds and average waiting times should be around 10 minutes for store entry.

The queues that stretched almost a mile-long on Ikea's Monday re-opening suggest that some customers may be willing to wait longer, as crowds of shoppers waited for over an hour to gain access.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Preston's St Georges prepare to open on June 15.

Shoppers also said councils and local authorities should be increasing support for independent and local retailers, with around 70% saying it will help return to normality.

Non-essential retailers, including Preston's St George’s Shopping Centre, will be given the go ahead to reopen to the public once they meet new Covid-19 safety and security guidelines.

In line with Government guidance, St Georges have implemented new measures to provide the "highest levels of hygiene" and maintain social distancing within the centre.

Clear signs and directional floor markings have been installed to help visitors maintain a two metre distance between themselves and others.

Customers could be expected to use hand sanitiser when entering shopping centres.

Andrew Stringer, Centre Manager said: “We’re making every effort to protect colleagues and customers, and while safety has to come first, we’re delighted to be able to reopening the non-essential stores at the centre. We are working closely with retailers to deliver clear health and safety measures around the centre and to ensure social distancing is maintained.

"We have and will continue to follow the Governments guidelines carefully. We would like to thank the public for their patience and our essential retailers who have been serving our community during this difficult time. The centre teams are working extremely hard under huge pressure, and we are immensely grateful to them”.

Intu, which owns shopping centres across the country, added the research showed 81% of people said they would visit shopping centres with the same or more frequency than they did before the coronavirus lockdown.

Looking at habits for shoppers as part of its report - The New Normal: Retail during and post Covid-19 , it concluded: "The over-arching message is clear, people want to get back to normal, which is promising, but they need clear reassurance from retailers and leisure providers along the way.

Houndshill Shopping Centre prepares to re-open

"We need to ensure consumers feel safe and supported as restrictions lift. An open dialogue, allowing us to listen to what people want and need as the situation progresses, will be key.

"If we work together closely as a sector, we feel confident we can navigate the challenges the pandemic presents."

Shoppers are expected to return back to retail stores and shopping centres from June 15, as part of the second phase in easing lockdown restrictions.

The popular Houndshill shopping centre, in Blackpool, have implemented a raft of measures including a one way system and floor stickers, to help visitors maintain social distancing measures and the chance to shop safely.

Centre Manager Debbs Lancelott said: “Managing the health and safety element of re-opening is our biggest priority right now and I can confidently say our plans meet all requirements outlined in the government guidelines, to ensure we safely manage the customer journey throughout the malls.

"We are working with retailers to deliver clear health and safety measures around the centre and to ensure social distancing is abided by. On-site guest ambassadors are on hand to carefully control the measures at all times.

“We will update everyone in due course as the stores around the centre gradually begin to open.

“We would like to thank the public for their patience during this challenging time and our fantastic team who are working very hard in challenging circumstances, to support our retailers, serve our communities and take care of one another."