Coronavirus: Guide to providing contactless click-and-collect from 8 March

News article

Guidance for retailers - baby equipment shops, clothing shops, footwear shops, and electrical goods shops - providing contactless click-and-collect services

The Northern Ireland Executive has agreed that a contactless click-and-collect service for baby equipment shops, clothing shops, footwear shops, and electrical goods shops can re-commence from Monday 8 March 2021.

A new three-step arrangement has been agreed, by retail bodies working with the Executive, to help Northern Ireland businesses operate their contactless click-and-collect services in a safe and regulated way.

Consumer guidance has also been outlined to help minimise the risk to public health for anyone using click-and-collect services.

Three-step arrangement for contactless click-and-collect

The following three-step plan must be followed by retailers permitted to provide a contactless click-and-collect service:

Step 1 - Customer contacts the retailer by online communication, telephone, text message, or post to place and pay for the order - payment must be completed at the time of order as no payment on collection of goods is permitted.

Step 2 - Retailer confirms the order and the allocated collection time by online communication, telephone, text message, or post. If either party needs to reschedule the collection time it must be done either by telephone call or online. An impromptu arrival by the customer to collect the item is not permitted thereby reducing the volume of travel.

Step 3 - Customer collects the item ensuring both they and the retailer have complied with social distancing and wider public health guidance.

What retailers must do when operating a click-and-collect service

The principles underpinning the operation of the contactless click-and-collect guidance are applicable to both essential and non-essential businesses operating click-and-collect services.

All retailers must apply the following:  

  • Only provide the service to those who have purchased and pre-paid for items prior to arriving at the shop to collect the item(s);
  • No in-person payment transactions are permitted - the click-and-collect is a collection service only;
  • For non-essential retailers, no access to the shop is permitted - the service can only be provided at the designated point for collection and the consumer must remain outside the premises;
  • The retailer should operate a quarter/half-hour/hourly slots with the number of customers per slot limited;
  • Collection must be within allocated time slot - the operation of bespoke collection times with management of people flows, queuing arrangements and social distancing are key responsibilities for any business operating click-and-collect;
  • The retailer must identify a designated collection point at either the entrance or exit point normally used for the premises or some other point which ensures no member of the public is permitted on non-essential retail premises;
  • No goods should be displayed or offered for sale at the collection point or outside of the premises; and
  • No browsing of products within a store prior to using an in house terminal to order items is permitted.

The introduction of these additional requirements aims to enhance the public safety within retail operations by promoting social distancing, reducing queues and interactions between consumers and retail staff, enhancing traffic flows by keeping a greater number of citizens outside stores, and reducing footfall in those essential stores that are open thereby enhancing their protection and maximising their safety.

There is additional guidance that retail businesses can follow to ensure the continued provision of a safe working environment - see working safely in different business settings and guidance on the use of face coverings.

Customers should be reminded that the limited opening of a contactless click-and-collect within the non-essential retail sector is to facilitate necessary consumer transactions. As such, customers should be reminded to consider the wider public health message and avoid unnecessary travel whenever possible.

Consumer guidance for using click-and-collect services

The limited opening of a contactless click-and-collect within the non-essential retail sector is to facilitate necessary consumer transactions. You are asked to consider the wider public health message and avoid unnecessary travel whenever possible.

Whilst retailers will implement procedures to ensure the safety of customers and staff, it is an individual’s responsibility to ensure they comply with the following guidance:

  • Do not visit any retail premises if you have tested positive or have developed any of the COVID-19 symptoms;
  • You must wear a face-covering when you go to any retail premises including any indoor area of a shopping centre, unless exempt. Read the face covering policy; 
  • Do not ask or attempt to enter the store;
  • You must follow direction signs, one way systems and shop capacities if provided by a retail outlet;
  • Maintain a 2-metre physical distance between other people;
  • During this period adults, unless accompanying a vulnerable person or a child/children under 18, should shop alone;
  • In order to keep transmission rates as low as possible, you are also advised to:
    • When visiting stores use the infection control measures and use the available hand sanitiser; 
    • Be polite. Please ensure that you are considerate to retail staff and abide by their guidance and instructions, including removing your face covering if requested for proof of age;
    • Shop local and do not travel further than necessary to visit stores;
    • Be patient - shopping may take longer than you may be used to and you may need to queue for longer as a result.;
    • You should only use public transport for essential shopping where it is not possible in your local council area - you should use online shopping or shops, banks and other services in your local area wherever you can; and
    • Get help: If you have symptoms of COVID-19 and are self-isolating, or are vulnerable or shielding and you need essential items like food or medicine you should request assistance from friends or contact the social services.

First published 18 February 2021