As Boris Johnson outlined the government’s timeline for a coronavirus exit strategy, retail bosses let out a sigh of relief. The coronavirus epidemic has hit the luxury sector particularly hard, though for some areas – cue the luxury hospitality heroes - it has only highlighted their steadfast commitment to service. In a televised announcement, the prime minister stated that from 12 April, all non-essential retailers, such as clothing stores, shoe shops and tailors, will be able to open their doors to the public once again, meaning department stores and luxury boutiques will need to prove themselves as unique, creative and – most importantly – safe destinations for shoppers.
The British Retail Consortium advises that shops can reopen as long as they adhere to safety guidelines. This includes staggering shift times, managing footfall and using plastic screens at payment points. For some retailers, there will also be widespread discounting as a result of the mountain of unsold stock. Luxury retailers are expected to draw customers to their brick-and-mortar boutiques through a range of incentives, including private appointments, complimentary transfers, discounts and special gifting for VIP clients. Here's what London’s most prominent stores are promising this spring.
Thanks to its website and remote personal shopping service, Harrods customers have been able to enjoy retail therapy during lockdown – albeit from afar. The store's most prized clients have taken well to shopping remotely via personal assistants, who cherry-pick customers' items from the shelves. When you stock items like Chopard's L.U.C Tourbillon (priced in the region of half a million pounds), someone's got to buy it.
When the Knightsbridge emporium reopens on 12 April, it plans to use footfall monitoring technology to limit capacity, as well as installing hand sanitiser stations across all floors, while face masks will be mandatory for all staff and customers. Harrods also announced the opening of a new outlet in Westfield Shepherd's Bush in July 2020, to coincide with the summer sale and help shift surplus stock as a result of coronavirus. This, along with its outlets in Lakeside and UK airports, are also expected to open on 12 April. The Harrods beauty salon and wellness centre will also reopen on this date and is currently taking advance bookings.
Updated hours: 10am - 6pm Monday-Saturday, 12pm-6pm Sunday
Selfridges - Food Hall now open
While you may not be able to enjoy a fresh shave at Acqua di Parma's Barbiere, you can still pick up gourmet groceries at Selfridges magnificent Food Hall, which has remained open during the third lockdown. The rest of the flagship store on Oxford Street is expected to reopen in April, although Selfridges has yet to confirm saying only it is 'following government advice'. When it does, strict social-distancing measures, including a one-way traffic policy and protective screens, will be in place, as well as complimentary hand sanitiser stations. Face coverings will also be required for all shoppers while in-store restaurants and beauty services will resume in May.
Updated hours: 10am-8pm Monday-Saturday, 11.30pm-6pm Sunday
How we've missed walking through the flower-scented entrance of Liberty! The department store closed its door for the first time in its 145-year history last year and fan are eagerly anticipating its reopening. The department store has yet to announce when it will officially throw open its doors, although it is likely this will be 12 April.
Until then, the Soho stalwart, famed for its mock-Tudor façade, has restrategised its business online and is currently offering free UK standard delivery. There is also a digital offering of podcasts, video tours and downloadable colouring pages, featuring iconic Liberty prints. For those getting crafty during lockdown, Liberty’s selection of fabrics and haberdashery is second to none.
Updated hours: 11am-7pm Monday-Saturday, 12pm-6pm Sunday
Fortnum & Mason - Food Halls now open
The Queen's grocer has reopened its first, ground and lower ground food halls at reduced hours, with the remainder of the store to follow on 12 April. The Parlour restaurant is currently offering takeaway while 45 Jermyn Street will open for outdoor dining from 12 April.
The Piccadilly emporium is encouraging social distancing by operating a one-way system on the stairs, erecting safety screens at the tills to protect staff and limiting the amount of customers in store (Fortnum & Mason recommends you visit outside the 3-6pm peak hours). Face masks will also be mandatory. Why not pick up a world-famous Fortnum & Mason hamper? Perfect for enjoying in the park when lockdown restrictions are eased.
Updated hours: 10am-7pm Monday-Saturday, 12pm-6pm Sunday
Harvey Nichols will be reopening its Knightsbridge store on 12 April, with its Espresso Bar and Burger & Lobster restaurant remaining open for takeaway-only until May, when guests will be limited to six per table. Face masks will be mandatory for all, while those who haven't visited in a while will find the store's layout slightly changed to accommodate social distancing, with hand sanitising stations placed throughout. Fitting rooms will be open, with all clothes quaratined for 48 hours after being tried on, while the store's clothing alteration services will be operating as normal with additional safety measures in place.
Updated hours: 11am - 7pm Monday-Saturday, 11:30am-6pm Sunday
Dover Street Market
Dover Street Market has always been a step ahead, especially on the online front. Despite lockdown, DSM still continues to launch hot collaborations with brands like Doc Martens and Stüssy which can be shopped via its website. The store will reopen on 12 April in line with government guidance, and with all the necessary safety precautions in place, and will be introducing a host of exciting new launches to celebrate. Stop by to check out the store's ground floor Givenchy and Homme Plus installations, as well as exclusive pieces from Craig Green and Perfect Magazine x Gucci. Until then, the DSM concierge team can be contacted on almost every conceivable platform (including WhatsApp, Wechat, FaceTime and text) so you can step out of lockdown at the cutting edge of fashion.
Updated hours: 12pm-6pm Monday-Sunday
Bond Street's resident department store Fenwick will be reopening with bang on 12 April. As well as instituting a host of new procedures to keep shoppers safe while browsing, includign social distancing throughout, hand sanitiser stations, a one-way system and carefully managed customer numbers, the store will be renewing its focus on promoting health and wellbeing for all. Most notably, this includes the opening of 123V, a new vegan restaurant by Alexis Gauthier, which will be offering al fresco dining options. The reopening will also Fenwick launch The Studio, a new wellness hub sotcked with activewear, beauty and fitness brands, such as Velorution bikes, The Upside and Daylesford, alongside nourishing food and drink options at the Wellnes Market and Hydration Station.
Updated hours: 10am-8pm Monday - Friday, 11.30am-6pm Sunday
The Royal Exchange
The square mile's definitive shopping destination, the Royal Exchange, is set to come back out of hibernation in April. Home to a special collection of contemporary luxury brands including Fortnum & Mason, Hermès, Jo Malone London, Mulberry, Church’s, Bremont, Smythson, Omega, and Tiffany & Co., it's the perfect place to pick up a gift for all those birthday celebrations you've missed. To keep customers safe, the Royal Exchange will be operating a controlled access system, implementing a three-step deep cleaning process and enforcing social distancing throughout the Exchange.
Updated hours: 7am-11pm Monday - Friday, 8am-11pm Saturday