Coronavirus has changed the way customers shop and how retail businesses operate. Many shops have closed their doors but essential services, like supermarkets, have the challenge of staying open and ensuring the safety of visiting customers. Social distancing measures are in place but are now evolving closer to Easter holiday trading.

Social distancing measures in store have gone from asking customers to use trolleys as a measurement, to putting decals on the floor to mark appropriate space at the checkout. Businesses have the challenge of monitoring customer actions, listening to feedback and acting day by day. We have seen the situation rapidly change from simply announcing social distancing measures to installing Perspex barriers at the checkout.

With Easter public holidays now upon us, retailers are more vigilant of social distancing and controlling customer flow. This comes on the back of a disappointing weekend around the country, with farmers markets photographed full of people and a car rally that resulted in tens of thousands of dollars in fines being handed out.

Voluntary store capacity guidelines have been developed by major retailers, and they have agreed to a code to manage the customer flow. This is designed to manage the flow into stores, limiting customer numbers inside when it is considered the store has reached capacity. This means you will need a presence at the store entry controlling customer flow in an effort to manage numbers.

We strongly advise that you have a process in place, that when or if your stores reach a maximum density, management can react accordingly.

Supermarkets are now limiting the number of customers permitted inside at one time, based on the size of the store and the 1.5 meters distancing rule. The public is encouraged to shop earlier in the week, rather than coming in on Holy Thursday where there would normally be a rush. Controlling customer flow during this time could be a major challenge for retailers. In light of this, supermarkets are coordinating with security staff and centre management to mind the crowds. Waiting times are unavoidable, but are necessary for public safety.

Controlling customer flow during this time has not been an easy task, and it will be a challenge leading up to the Easter long weekend. The limit on the number of customers inside the store is a temporary solution to an ongoing problem, but regardless, social distancing measures are proving effective in combating the coronavirus.