10 Jun 2020

What you need to know about reopening changing rooms

Many retailers are preparing to open their doors for the first time in 12 weeks on June 15, In the last few weeks, Our partners Bira have been busy providing practical help for retailers to ensure that they ‘get it right’ when they do reopen.

The guidance for re-opening has been available for some time. Bira has been heavily involved with developing theses guidelines. They pushed for a broad framework, with the ability to be flexible as no two retail premises are the same. We believe the Government delivered what was asked for and retailers can now implement the measures identified by their risk assessments.

However, within this broad framework, there are some areas that might be seen as a little ambiguous and open to interpretation. One such area is the use of changing rooms – a topic that caused many retailers to contact us to seek clarification.

With regards to fitting rooms specifically, the guidelines say, steps that will usually be needed:

  • Fitting rooms should be closed wherever possible given the challenges in operating them safely
  • Where fitting rooms are essential, for example to support key workers buying critical protective clothing, they should be cleaned very frequently, typically between each use
  • Creating procedures to manage clothes that have been tried on, for example delaying their return to the shop floor
  • Limiting contact between customers and colleagues during fitting, for example by suspending fitting assistance

Because the guidance is a broad framework, there are lots of phrases such as: “usually needed”; “wherever possible”; “where something is essential”; “limiting contact”; etc. With that in mind you have to consider your specific circumstances, especially with regards to fitting rooms. We think it is more important to focus on what is said:

  • Where fitting rooms are essential – can mean essential to your business and to the customer
  • If used, cleaned very frequently – better still after each use
  • Management of clothes tried on – 72 hours of quarantine required
  • Limiting contact of fitting – if not suspended take measures such as face coverings, visors, etc. Plenty of hand sanitiser to be available

As Bira wanted to provide more clarity, we raised the issue with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) – the Government body responsible for developing the guidelines. BEIS told us: “Each business should determine where use of fitting rooms is essential in line with their health and safety duties, if deemed essential should be cleaned very frequently, typically between each use, as per the guidance.”

For further reassurance they also spoke to the Health and Safety Executive who confirmed that there is a potential for surfaces in the fitting room to be contaminated, so in an ideal situation all surfaces would be cleaned after every use. If that is practical, then that is one way forward.

Please note that Bira are not providing legal advice – simply interpretation of the guidelines.

The use of changing rooms, the trying on of clothes and shoes can all be done in store providing that you as the retailer can show that you are taking steps to minimise the risk. The one strong theme of the guidance for re-opening is ensuring you have a robust risk assessment in place.

In the smaller, boutique fashion shops, changing rooms are an integral part of the selling process – more important to those businesses than the larger stores. The message is that in order for you to be successful with you re-open, with your staff and customers being safe within your store, it is important to tell everyone what you are doing and how you are reducing the risk. Giving people that reassurance will encourage them to use your shop and all your services.

Download your template risk assessment now


Bira has produced a bank of useful insight and practical guidance for retailers that you can access here. You can read the original article here, and you still have time to take advantage of their free temporary membership until the 30th June 2020.

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