Selfridges wants to offer shoppers a ‘joyful experience’ as stores reopen


Personal after-hours shopping trips, online beauty appointments and entertainment for those queuing outside will form part of Selfridges’ coronavirus-era shopping offer when the retailer reopens on 15 June.

The luxury department store group, which operates four shops in the UK, including its London flagship on Oxford Street, will not be able to reopen services such as beauty makeovers, hairdressing or its cafes and cinema because of Covid-19 restrictions. It is hoping a mix of virtual experiences and live entertainments – such as DJs – will help shoppers feel no less pampered.

“We will be bringing a little bit more life and a joyful experience for customers who come to our stores,” said Meave Wall, the stores director of Selfridges.

The retailer’s online sales have doubled since its stores closed when the UK went into lockdown. Treats including lipstick and lingerie as well as kit for lockdown life, including loungewear and kitchen accessories, have proved particularly popular.

Food orders have also surged after the retailer widely promoted its food hall delivery service, previously the preserve of those in the know, so that shoppers within the M25 can order in.

But the closure of all stores in London, Manchester and Birmingham has dealt a blow to overall sales.

“I can’t wait to put on my heels and get back out there,” says Wall.

The store has had time to hone its plans after opening the London food hall five weeks ago – with queues of customers waiting outside despite the low-key launch.

The food hall’s greengrocer, bakery, butcher and greengrocer have enjoyed steady trade from local shoppers in Mayfair during lockdown and have branched out with new ideas including meal kits for pizza and tacos.

The full reopening of the department stores – as non-essential retailers are allowed to welcome customers once again from Monday – will be heralded by window displays going up this week under the theme of “thank you”. Staff have contributed to giant thank-you cards for the displays that will refer to family members, key workers or others who have supported them.

“We have given creativity over to our team across the stores and some of the input has been extraordinary,” Wall says.

From 15 June, it will be possible to book personal shopping appointments for fashion or beauty – held either via video calls or after hours in the store where advisers will keep to the two-metre physical distancing rule. Store opening hours will be slightly reduced from 11am to 7pm in London, and similar times elsewhere and appointments can be booked for an hour before opening and an hour after closing.

Unlike many fashion stores, Selfridges will also be reopening at least some of its changing rooms – with staff on hand to sanitise surfaces and steam-clean items that have been tried on. Items that can’t be steamed will be quarantined for a minimum of three days.

Shoppers will be allowed to browse products in stores, with cleaners or shop assistants regularly wiping down surfaces. Tester pots in the beauty halls will not be available but assistants will be able to show products on their own skin from a safe distance. All staff will be given the option of wearing a mask and will have their temperature checked before they start work.

Hi-tech people counters will ensure the stores do not get too crowded, with greeters on the door telling shoppers if they can enter or must wait.

For those who don’t want to venture to a store, Selfridges is upping its online services with virtual gift advice and Instagram beauty tutorials. Video-enabled personal shopping, which has until now only been offered to regular clients, will be bookable online by anybody from 15 June.

“We want to bring Selfridges into the comfort of people’s homes,” Wall says.