Lush begins reopening stores to a new shopping reality

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Following staggered closures across March and April (Japan), fresh handmade cosmetics brand Lush currently have 793 of their 935 shops worldwide shut. But as lockdowns start to slowly lift, business is gradually beginning to open its doors once again.

After a phased reopening from 20 April, Lush Germany will have all 41 shops open again this week – six weeks after initially closing.

Austria have also staggered their reopenings with high street shops opening from 15 April and shopping malls from 2 May.

Other planned reopenings this week include UAE, Russia, South Africa, Netherlands and Greece.

Spain plan to reopen shops from 11 May (dependent on local government guidelines) and Italy on 18 May, following a trial phase in five shops slightly earlier.

“Even with considerable help from governments, local councils and landlords, so many businesses are not making it through. I am grateful to be here reopening our shops again and feel unbelievably lucky that we had the help,” said Mark Constantine, Lush co-founder and managing director.

A new shopping experience

Finding new ways to provide such a personal service to customers is an interesting challenge and the brand anticipates a change in customer experience whilst virus control measures remain in place.

Alongside local government guidelines – such as observing advised social distancing rules, no hands on demonstrations and having a safe queuing system to enter – staff safety measures for each Lush shop reopening also include lower staffing levels to begin with, a continuous cleaning rota, inviting customers to wash their hands on entering with their own piece of soap and no product testers on display.

Some shops have restarted with an Order & Collect service, giving customers the chance to get their favourite products without the need to spend much time in the shop. Customers in Germany have been vocal, saying they prefer to shop directly rather than just over the phone, leading shops there to set up a ‘kiosk’ by the front door to serve, avoiding the need for customers to enter the shop at all.

Few shops have seen operations return with full opening hours with the majority adjusting daily in order to remain reactive to customer requests and needs and to ensure staff feel safe.

“We are so pleased to be welcoming everyone back into our shops. Customers were familiar with our unique, award winning customer service, so we hope they will bear with us as we find new ways to serve them during these unusual, socially distanced times,” said Claire Constantine, Lush retail director.

UK reopening plan

While the brand doesn’t have an official opening date for UK shops (closed since 22nd March), alternative ways to trade – using feedback from what is working well in other countries – are currently being carefully considered with the comfort and safety of staff and customers as a priority.

These include the kiosk style purchasing at the door, Order & Collect (by email and phone), local delivery services directly from shops (currently being trialled through Lush Oxford St), online consultations, appointment based shopping and product demonstrations through tech advances such as Lush Lens.

Online retail

After implementing extra safety measures, the UK website reopened on 18th April after a 3 week hiatus. As of this week, 37 country websites are open, which is all but one (Panama).

Current best selling ranges online are Skincare, Hair care and Bath Bombs.