Halfords has announced that it will be reopening 53 of its stores under what it terms a ‘Retail Lite’ operating model that will emphasise social distancing, following a successful trial of the concept at its stores in Peterborough and at Cribbs Causeway in Bristol.
It will be the first time that customers will be allowed inside Halfords stores since it began reopening some of its outlets at the end of March to provide essential services, with bike shops being one of the categories of retailers allowed to continue trading during lockdown.
Currently, some 335 of the 446 Halfords stores throughout the country remained open, but under a ‘Dark Store’ model meaning customers have not been let into the premises to browse goods, instead placing orders with staff at outside the entrance and waiting for their purchases to be brought to them.
Most stores will continue to operate in that way for now, and Halfords says that it will gradually convert them to the Retail Lite model.
However, it has not set a fixed timetable or deadline for doing that, underlining that “the pace will instead be dictated entirely by the company’s confidence that it can keep its colleagues and customers safe.”
Halfords says that the social distancing measures being introduced at the Retail Lite stores include:
Only a safe number of customers allowed in the store at any one time
Queue marshalling in place outside the store
Safety notices and floor markings to remind customers about social distancing
Cleaning station at the front of the store, with supplies of hand sanitiser and wipes
‘Sneeze screens’ and visors for colleagues
Customers will be asked not to handle or try on products
Customers will be asked to book bike consultation and collection slots online or over the phone in advance, wherever possible.
The company’s CEO, Graham Stapleton, said: “We are pleased to be in a position to start letting our customers back into our stores.
“However, we are going to be reopening them to our customers gradually and cautiously in order to be absolutely certain that our colleagues and customers have a safe environment in which to work and shop.”
He confirmed that, in common with other retailers in the cycling sector, Halfords had enjoyed a boost in sales since governments across the four UK nations implemented emergency legislation in May, and expected that to continue as lockdown measures are gradually eased.
“There has been a big surge in demand for our bike products and services as people have taken to cycling during the lockdown, both for commuting and for fun.
“We are also anticipating a similar level of demand for our motoring products and services in the coming days, as people begin to use vehicles again that in some cases will have been off the road for many weeks.”
He added: “The launch of our new Retail Lite model will assist us in meeting this increased demand, which in turn will allow us to continue helping to keep the UK moving.”
The full list of stores that Halfords is reopening under the “Retail Lite” model is shown below.
Edinburgh – Straiton
Liverpool, Edge Lane
Leicester, St Margarets
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.