Earlier this week, Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced that wearing face coverings in shops and supermarkets would be compulsory from 24th July, declaring that the measure would give people “more confidence to shop safely and enhance protections for those who work in shops".
The announcement represents a doubling down on public hygiene measures, after face coverings were made compulsory on public transport and NHS facilities from 15th June.
The retail sector has arguably been one of the hardest hit as a result of the pandemic, with widespread job losses and millions of workers placed on furlough. However, retail workers are also among the key workers most likely to contract the virus, with death rates amongst retail workers 75% higher amongst men and 60% higher amongst women than in the general population.
The startling figures have led many to call for increased protections for retail workers, and the introduction of mask-wearing in shops and supermarkets only goes so far to protect key workers in Britain.
Will Broome, CEO of Ubamarket, has been instrumental in the development of a retail shopping app, which introduces features such as scan-as-you-shop, aisle sat-nav, in-app payment and till-less checkout to help retailers offer a more convenient and safer environment for both customers and staff. Now, Will comments on the measures and discusses how the shopping experience will change indefinitely throughout the pandemic and beyond:
“The coronavirus pandemic has completely changed the retail landscape as we knew it, and we now know the full extent of the danger posed by the Coronavirus, especially for the nation’s retail workers.
It remains to be seen whether the introduction of mask-wearing in stores will help to protect retail workers and customers, but it is encouraging to see that the government is focusing on developing additional safety and hygiene measures beyond the social distancing policies and sanitisation protocols.
The shopping experience will never return to the way it was before lockdown, and it is likely that new measures such as mask wearing will endure for some time to come. However this only represents a small step in developing long-term measures that can make the overall retail experience safer and better.
The implementation of retail technology will allow retailers to go further by solving a number of the problems posed by Coronavirus. Providing tech solutions, such as a consumer app, can put shoppers in control and will unlock a range of features such as remote stock-checking, till-less checkout and aisle sat-nav, all of which will greatly enhance the shopping experience and develop a safer, more convenient environment.”