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The Cityist.
How to be the perfect ‘new normal’ customer

After three months of lockdown, the best of our great little shops have started to re-open. For the city’s independent retailers and their loyal customers desperate to get shopping again these are important times and could get emotional – but be prepared, there are new guidelines, and it’s going to be a very different kind of retail experience.

Over the last few weeks Bristol’s various BID districts, and shopping centre managers have been working with the city’s business owners, offering guidance, advising on government rules and regulations, and assisting with signage, while valiant crews have been deep-cleansing the streets, stores and public areas as well as stickering social distancing guidelines on the pavements and creating queuing zones outside shops. The city is geared-up and ready to go, all it needs is you.

Here are our 10 tips for making it work:

1. Do be nice, courteous and patient

Shopkeepers have waited a long time to welcome you – so respect it. We might want it back the way it was, but that just isn’t possible. And whatever frustrates – never be rude or lose one’s temper.

2. Stay safe, and wear a face covering

Really, if you don’t know the drill by now…
Public Health England tells us to wear a face covering inside stores and public areas, with exceptions made for very young children, and those with disabilities or difficulty breathing. Shop and store staff will be wearing face coverings, gloves and possibly other PPE to help protect themselves, as well as you, from any potential contamination. 

3. Follow the rules

As a good customer you need to observe the two-metre safe distance from staff and all others. Follow the signage on the floors, queue as instructed with good manners at all times – and an occasional smile and acknowledgement of other good people around you won’t go amiss.

4. Sanitise

It’s a good idea to take a small hand sanitiser with you, but most stores and shopping areas will provide sanitiser stations where you can get a free squirt. They will be well signposted. Some are touchless, but many will be pump action – but don’t worry as you will be cleaning your hands. 

Remember cleaning your hands and avoiding touching your face is still highly effective in stopping the spread in between visiting shops and handling merchandise.

5. Plan your shopping

To allow store staff to safely avoid peak travelling times, most store hours opening will now be between 10am and 5pm, Monday to Saturday, with Sunday opening between 11am and 5pm. Some stores may operate other opening times so make sure to take a look at the websites.

6. Home conveniences

Although some public toilets are open, probably the best advice is to use the toilet before you leave home. 

7. Avoid public transport wherever possible.

Yes we know, it goes against everything we have been told the last few years as we welcome new greener transport policies, but right now it’s best to cycle, walk or take the car, and all car parks are open. For those larger purchases, many stores will also be offering a click and collect service, as well as next day delivery.

8. Go contactless

It’s shiny-time for the many payment systems available – Apple Pay, Google Pay, and Paypal One Touch are simple to set up on your smartphone and many have upped the limits to make bigger single payments possible. Your bank and credit cards will also have contactless capabilities. if in doubt, ask your friendly shop assistant. For bigger purchases – they love a big spender – then the card machines will be there, wiped down and all ready to go.

9. Take a shopping bag.

Despite our new-found enthusiasm for plastic use in PPE, acrylic screens, hermetically-sealed cutlery etc., carrier bags are another big no-no.

10. For a city to live, just add people

They may be classed as non-essential stores, but living without them and staying home have proved the saddest of times, let alone the despair that Covid-19 has had on our local economy. This is the moment that we have been waiting for – a small step forward as our shops’ doors open once again. 

Our local stores will welcome your support, patience and good custom.