Waitrose introduces new measures to protect customers and Partners including limiting customer numbers in shops

Tuesday 24 March 2020

Waitrose has today backed the Government’s plea for social distancing by announcing a set of strong, new measures to help its customers shop safely and to protect its Partners. These include: limiting customer numbers, introducing ‘safe distance’ floor signage, ‘two-metre marshalls’ to help manage queues, protective screens at checkouts, additional security and encouraging contactless shopping.

The new measures include:

  1. Limiting customer numbers in shops1- From today, supermarkets and convenience shops will begin to limit the number of customers allowed in at any one time, so that social distancing can be observed (limits will be specific to each branch based on the number of tills). 
    Shop managers will use their judgment on customer numbers and when the shop is at capacity to manage social distancing will operate a one in, one out policy.
    Waitrose will still dedicate the first opening hour to elderly and vulnerable customers and those caring for them and NHS staff will continue to be given priority checkout service.

  2. Two-metre marshals:  Marshals will  help to manage queues outside shops and if necessary remind customers to respect the 2 metre social distancing rule. There will be signage and a coned area instructing customers to queue two metres apart outside shops.

  3. Social distancing management in all shops: Floor signage will be introduced in all shops to ensure customers keep two metres apart when queueing at checkouts and at Welcome desks. These will read ‘Leave space. Leave Safe. Help us to protect you.’

  4. Checkout screens have been ordered to protect Partners and customers from infected moisture droplets.

  5. Fewer checkouts - In order to enable Partners working in the shop to maintain social distancing where two checkouts are back to back one will close.

  6. Special protective visors are also being ordered and will be available to Partners, if they wish. This creates a protective guard that will help create a barrier between the user and the outside environment, stopping infected moisture droplets reaching the user and being absorbed through the mouth, nose or eyes.

  7. New lift instructions stating that only one customer or family should occupy a lift at any one time.

  8. A drive to encourage more customers to shop in a “cashless and contactless” way to prevent unnecessary contact.  Partners will guide customers where possible to use Waitrose Quick Check self-service technology and contactless card payments.
    Customers will be encouraged to download and use the  QuickCheck App to further minimise contact when shopping, meaning products are handled less and customers with the large baskets will be able to checkout through our fastest Self Checkout channel with minimal contact with others.
    Waitrose & Partners is also part of discussions to increase the contactless limit to £45 to help customers make more use of contactless payment

Bérangère Michel, Partner & Executive Director, Customer Service John Lewis Partnership said; “The health of our Partners and customers has always been our number one priority and we fully support social distancing. 

“While these measures will dramatically change how people shop and interact with others in our stores for the moment - they are absolutely vital to ensure that our customers can shop safely and that our Partners are protected as they go above and beyond to serve shoppers in this time of crisis.”

1 Welcome Break and Shell shops excluded


In Waitrose shops, customers are able to buy three of any specific grocery item, and a maximum of any two packets of toilet roll. Exclusions to this include fresh fruit and vegetables, as well as Easter confectionery, beers, wines, cider and spirits.

About the John Lewis Partnership

The John Lewis Partnership owns and operates two of Britain's best-loved retail brands - John Lewis & Partners and Waitrose & Partners. Started as a radical idea nearly a century ago, the Partnership is the largest employee-owned business in the UK and amongst the largest in the world, with over 80,000 employees who are all Partners in the business. For all intents and purposes, the Partnership is a social enterprise; the profits made are reinvested into the business - for customers and Partners. John Lewis & Partners operates 50 shops across the UK (36 department stores, 12 John Lewis at home and shops at St Pancras International and Heathrow Terminal 2) as well as johnlewis.com. Waitrose & Partners has 338 shops in England, Scotland, Wales and the Channel Islands, including 61 convenience branches, and another 27 shops at Welcome Break locations. Waitrose & Partners exports products to more than 50 countries worldwide and has nine shops which operate under licence in the Middle East. The retailer's omnichannel business includes the online grocery service, Waitrose.com, as well as specialist online shops including waitrosecellar.com for wine and waitroseflorist.com for plants and flowers.    


Waitrose & Partners

Matthew Clemens
Partner & Communications Manager
Email: matthew.clemens@waitrose.co.uk
Tel: 07591 381399

John Lewis & Partners

Mandy Pursey
Partner & Senior Communications Manager
Email: mandy.pursey@johnlewis.co.uk
Tel: 07813 696637