John Lewis has said it will reopen its first two department stores on Monday June 15 with new social distancing measures in place to protect shoppers and staff.
The historic retailer said it will then reopen a further 11 stores on Thursday June 18 as part of a phased reopening plan to welcome customers to its shops again.
The update comes two days after Prime Minister Boris Johnson gave non-essential retailers, such as fashion stores, the go-ahead to open to the public on June 15.
It said it plans to reopen more stores “throughout the summer” depending on how customers and staff respond to the first openings.
John Lewis’ stores in Poole and Kingston will be the first two sites to swing their doors back open.
On June 18 these will be followed by: Bluewater, Cambridge, Cheadle, Cheltenham, High Wycombe, Horsham, Ipswich, Norwich, Nottingham, Solihull and Welwyn.
But shoppers will be faced with a different shopping experience to before the lockdown, with the retailer introducing a raft of health and safety measures.
It said fitting rooms and in-store cafes will be shut to customers until further notice, while it will also reduce the availability of customer services, such as beauty services.
John Lewis said it will reduce the number of entrances and cap the number of shoppers in its stories as part of the measures.
It said it will also have “customer service hosts” who will be assigned to welcome customers, answer questions and manage queues in busy areas of shops.
The group added that branches selected to reopen have been chosen primarily because of their accessibility by car and it will use social distancing practices already in place in Waitrose stores.
John Lewis temporarily closed its 50 department stores on March 23 for the first time in its 155-year history.
Sources close to the retailer told the PA news agency last month that it started discussions on which department stores should keep their doors closed permanently, with it “highly unlikely” that all 50 stores would reopen.
In April, John Lewis said online sales have increased since the lockdown but warned annual sales could plunge by 35% in a worst-case scenario as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.