John Lewis has become the first UK retailer to suspend its click-and-collect service amid fears all non-essential retailers could follow.
The department store announced yesterday that click-and-collect services were being “switched off to new orders”, citing a “clear change in tone and emphasis” from the UK government in recent days.
It has also suspended new bookings for services like appliance installation and bathroom fittings, but says it will continue to carry these out if they are “essential to the health and well-being of customers and their families”.
While its sister brand Waitrose will continue to offer click-and-collect, the grocer has become one of the numerous UK supermarkets to limit the number of people allowed in store and prevent anyone without a mask entering.
According to a report from The Telegraph, the government is considering placing a ban on all non-essential click-and-collect to prevent people forming long queues and mingling where it is not strictly necessary.
“The general feedback is that click and collect is not working, people aren’t wearing masks in queues, people are too close to each other,” a government source said.
While it is understood that these restrictions will not extend to supermarkets, both the government and supermarkets themselves are set to impose tighter restrictions.
“The vast majority of people are sticking by the rules, but when you go to the supermarket it’s just chaos,” the source continued.
“When it first started it was one-in, one-out, one-way systems. That’s all fallen by the wayside.”
Morrisons, Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Asda, Aldi and Waitrose have all now said they will place more security guards at entrances to forcibly prevent anyone without a mask or medical exemption from entering stores.
Elsewhere B&Q, which has remained open as an essential retailers during lockdown, has closed its kitchen and bathroom showrooms over concerns of potential contamination.
John Lewis’ executive director of operations Andrew Murphy said: “We are acutely aware that the country is at a critical point in the pandemic.
“We’ve listened carefully to the clear change in tone and emphasis of the views and information shared by the UK’s governments in recent days.
“While we recognise that the detail of formal guidance has not changed, we feel it is right for us – and in the best interests of our partners and customers – to take proactive steps to further enhance our COVID security and related operational policies.”