Shropshire Council

Advice to retailers – alternative ways to trade to reduce the spread of Covid-19

Guidance on distance selling, including ‘click and collect’.

The government introduced legislation and provided guidance requiring businesses selling non-essential goods to close their doors in March in order to reduce the spread of Covid-19. Most retail businesses have now been given the go ahead to reopen over the coming weeks; however, many are continuing to consider other ways to trade in order to increase their economic viability.  

Distance selling

Trading online, or through telephone orders, is a means of doing this, and more and more businesses are exploring this method of trading now and for the future. Further guidance is available for shops operating a pick-up or delivery service.  

Consumers have additional rights when purchasing goods using these distance contracts. Our officers can advise businesses about how they can comply with the law in relation to selling online, over the phone and via click and collect, as well as how social distancing can be ensured. Could the officers provide advice in writing?

In most cases, consumers are entitled to a 14-day cancellation period. The Business Companion Consumer Contracts: Distance Sales guide details when and how this cancellation right applies. It also provides information on alternative dispute resolution, information that must be provided to the consumer, delivery charges, returns and refunds. 

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Own deliveries

If you're making your own deliveries, these must be done in accordance with the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 to ensure that you protect the health and safety of both employees and others. You must undertake a risk assessment of the work activity in relation to the risk of contracting the virus, and identify the control measures that should be in place to minimise the risk. You must record the significant findings if you employ more than five people, and be able to demonstrate those control measures to the local authority where the premises is one where the local authority is the enforcing authority, such as shops, warehouses, etc. Guidance on undertaking risk assessments in general can be found on the HSE website. 

Please ensure that all drivers are insured for business use. 

Best practice should be as follows:

  • Take payment at the time of booking rather than at point of delivery. 
  • Where possible, ensure that only one member of staff is in a delivery vehicle at any one time. 
  • Leave the delivery at the door and ring the doorbell or knock on the door. Retreat to at least 2 metres away and wait for the householder to acknowledge the delivery.
  • After each delivery, use hand sanitiser. 

Couriers

Public Health England (PHE) is confident that all the appropriate infection and prevention control measures are in place with couriers and delivery services to reduce risk to the public. They have also advised that people receiving parcels aren't put at any additional risk of contracting the virus. 

Using couriers will result in an additional cost to businesses. If these costs are being passed on to consumers, they must be informed of these costs before placing an order. Details of these costs must be clear and not misleading. 

Best practice should be as follows:

  • Familiarise yourself with what the courier can offer and how much this will cost.
  • To try and reduce costs, consider delivering to certain geographical areas on specific days.
  • Inform your customers that you are using external couriers for the delivery. 

Click and collect

This is where the customer orders and purchases goods either online or over the phone and collects from store. Whilst retail shops are beginning to open, in the interest of the health and safety of staff and customers alike there remains the need to promote the stay-at-home principle, and customers should continue to be encouraged to use home delivery services.

Click and collect provides another alternative to shopping directly from within a store. These trading methods will help retailers to manage social distancing more effectively for those customers who do choose to shop in store, particularly in smaller shop premises.

For those businesses able to offer click and collect you must ensure that you've fully considered the risks of doing so in accordance with the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 to ensure that you protect the health and safety of both employees and others, such as those customers who may be collecting goods. You must undertake a risk assessment of the work activity in relation to the risk of contracting the virus, and identify the control measures that should be in place to minimise the risk. You must record the significant findings if you employ more than five people, and be able to demonstrate those control measures to the local authority where the premises is one where the local authority is the enforcing authority, such as shops, warehouses, etc. Guidance on undertaking risk assessments in general can be found on the HSE website. You must also consider other risks associated with such operations if you have not previously offered this type of service, such as ensuring that you can segregate vehicles and pedestrians to prevent any risk of being struck by moving vehicles under the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations.  We will consider taking a range of actions to improve control of workplace risks. These actions may include the provision of specific advice to employers through to issuing enforcement notices to help secure improvements with the PHE guidance. Further guidance on compliance and control measures can be found on the HSE website.   

Best practice should be as follows:

  • Promote home deliveries to customers as a safer way to receive the goods.
  • Take payment over the phone/internet to avoid unnecessary handling of cash or customers handling card machines.
  • Provide customers with a specific time to collect their goods, to avoid too many people being present at the business premises at the same time.
  • Ensure that customers can observe social distancing when collecting their purchases.
  • If possible, deliver goods to the customer’s vehicle, or open the door for them (ensuring that a two-metre distance is observed) to avoid customer contact with door handles.
  • Regularly wipe down surfaces that customers may touch.
  • Ensure that anyone who is displaying COVID-19 symptoms doesn't enter the premises.
  • Put signage on shop entrances to ensure that customers are aware of and can follow the procedures that you've implemented.