The high street has returned to business with non-essential retail given the green light to reopen from Monday 15 June.

Since lockdown began on 23 March, only shops selling essential items, such as food and medicine, have been allowed to remain open. But now a host of outlets including clothing retailers, homeware stores and charity shops have been able to welcome customers back into their stores, albeit under strict safety guidelines.

With new government rules to protect customers and staff from transmission of Covid-19, the high street shopping experience will look very different from the one we used to know. Hand sanitiser will be given to customers on arrival, baskets will be wiped down between uses and floor stickers will mark out distancing zones and one-way systems on the floor.

The number of people allowed in a store at any one time is also to be limited, based on the size of the shop, while customers will be encouraged to make contactless payments and only touch what they plan to buy. For many stores, this also means the closure of fitting rooms while others will quarantine any clothes that are tried on for 72 hours before placing them back on the shop floor.

Shops in Northern Ireland have been allowed to reopen since Friday 12 June under similar guidelines, but no firm dates have been set for Wales or Scotland.

The move will be welcome news for fashion fans looking to update their wardrobe with summer essentials but which shops are opening? Here is a list of major retailers open for business.


Debenhams has reopened 50 stores in England, with the rest to follow later in the week, and has already welcomed back customers in three Northern Ireland outlets.

All of the shops that have reopened are functioning with reduced shopping hours, with the majority open from 10am until 5pm seven days a week.

The move follows an announcement last month that the retailer would not reopen five of its stores once the nationwide lockdown is lifted, resulting in up 1,000 staff losing their jobs.


All Fenwicks stores have reopened, however the brand’s Bond Street location will only have its ground floor open for browsing. Customers will be able to visit the other fashion floors on request for assisted shopping.

In addition to expected measures, such as intensive cleaning and social distancing signage, all restaurants, cafes and beauty services will remain closed.


H&M has reopened the majority of its stores and implemented a range of safety measures such as increased hygiene and cleaning routines, separate entrances and exits, and limited customer numbers entering stores.

The retailer has also adapted in store operations by closing fittings rooms, limiting the number of tills accepting cash, installing plexi screens for till points and suspending click and collect services.

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John Lewis

While just two John Lewis stores opened on 15 June, a further 11 stores are expected to follow on Thursday 18 June.

As well as maintaining social distancing and hygiene measures, close contact beauty services will not be available in-store until further notice.

Marks & Spencer

While Marks & Spencer’s food halls have remained open throughout lockdown, its clothing space has been closed to customers.

However, from 15 June the retailer is opening the “majority” of its fashion areas. In addition to the expected health and safety measures, Marks & Spencer has confirmed there will be no bra, suit or children’s shoes fittings for the time being.

New Look

New Look has reopened more than 100 of is stores in England. However, the retailer has advised that store opening times may vary where it is currently operating with fewer team members.

To help keep its customers and staff safe, New Look is limiting the number of people who can shop in its stores at any one time, providing hand sanitiser, keeping fitting rooms closed and using screens at till points.

River Island

Over 150 River Island stores have reopened with more to follow on Thursday 18 June.

For now, all stores will have reduced opening hours and, as well as regular cleaning taking place throughout the day, there will be hand sanitiser stations set up for all to use.

All open stores have new measures in place to keep customers and staff safe, including reducing visitor numbers, installing clearly marked distancing zones and brand-new safety equipment.

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