Coronavirus UK: Changing rooms in clothes shops are set to reopen so you can try before you buy 


All change! They’ve been out of bounds for a year… now changing rooms in clothes shops are set to reopen so you can try before you buy

  • Opening of changing rooms seen as a significant boost for high street retailers
  • Shops were ordered to close changing rooms ‘wherever possible’ last year
  • New guidance allows them to be open where measures introduced to halt virus 

Clothes shops will be allowed to reopen their changing rooms for the first time in more than a year when restrictions on non-essential stores are lifted on April 12.

It is seen as a significant boost for high street retailers battling to regain market share lost to online competitors during repeated lockdowns.

Shops were ordered to keep changing rooms shut ‘wherever possible’ when they reopened last year.

Changing rooms opening is seen as a significant boost for high street retailers battling to regain market share lost to online competitors during repeated lockdowns (file image)

Changing rooms opening is seen as a significant boost for high street retailers battling to regain market share lost to online competitors during repeated lockdowns (file image)

But new guidance from the Business Department yesterday allows for them to be reopened provided shops introduce measures to halt transmission of the virus.

Store managers are advised to deploy a staff member to control entry to changing rooms and only one person at a time will be allowed to use a cubicle – ruling out family members entering too .

Managers are advised to leave a gap of ‘several minutes’ between customers and cubicles should be cleaned regularly, but stores will not have to quarantine clothes that have been tried on but not bought.

Ministers hope the change will encourage shoppers back to the high street.

New guidance from the Business Department yesterday allows changing rooms to be reopened provided shops introduce measures to halt transmission of the virus. Pictured, Oxford Street in London

New guidance from the Business Department yesterday allows changing rooms to be reopened provided shops introduce measures to halt transmission of the virus. Pictured, Oxford Street in London

In another change to the guidance, betting shops will have to collect contact details of customers in the same way as pubs and restaurants. The data will help track contacts of those who develop Covid.

The relaxation of the rules around changing rooms follows a campaign by retailers, who argued that the facility to try on clothes was an essential service for high street stores.

John Lewis and Marks & Spencer are among those who have been waiting for new guidance in the hope they can reopen their changing rooms.

Andrew Goodacre, chief executive of the British Independent Retailers Association, said: ‘Why would a customer go into a shop, buy numerous items, carry them all home, because there is no changing room, and then potentially return them, meaning another trip into town, when they could order online and have them delivered? We want people to come back shopping and back to the high street.’

In another change to the guidance, betting shops will have to collect contact details of customers in the same way as pubs and restaurants. The data will help track contacts of those who develop Covid. Pictured Westfield in Stratford, London

In another change to the guidance, betting shops will have to collect contact details of customers in the same way as pubs and restaurants. The data will help track contacts of those who develop Covid. Pictured Westfield in Stratford, London

In a further boost, the government announced last week that shops will be allowed to stay open until 10pm, six days a week to help limit overcrowding.

Non-essential shops were ordered to close in December in many parts of the country following the introduction of Tier Four restrictions. The rest had to close their doors in January when a national lockdown was introduced.

Thousands of stores will remain closed, with famous names such as Topshop, Debenhams and Laura Ashley among those to go under during the last year. 

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