RETAILERS in Hampshire are working to get their shops ready in three weeks’ time after the government said non-essential stores would be allowed to reopen.

The government said the June 15 date could change and that the shopping experience would be very different.

John Lewis is preparing for a phased reopening of its department stores, which include the large anchor store at Westquay in Southampton.

The John Lewis Partnership said its preparations had been “informed” by social distancing measures at its Waitrose supermarkets, which have traded throughout the pandemic.

It said it would reduce the number of entrances to stores and would cap the number of people able to shop at one.

It said: “We have been preparing to reopen our John Lewis stores, informed by what we have learnt from the social distancing measures the partnership has taken in Waitrose.

“Our plan sees us open our shops on a phased basis, to enable us to test the changes we are introducing and ensure the best and safest customer and partner experience.

“The safety of our customers and partners will govern everything we do and we are prepared to readjust our plan and make changes as we go to make sure we get it absolutely right and continue adhering to evolving government guidelines.”

Southampton’s retail scene will be reopening without Debenhams, which has been a fixture in the city for generations.

The chain was sold in a pre-pack administration in April and the city branch is one of at least 12 that will not reopen, leading to around 100 job losses locally. The company said it had not been able to reach an agreement with landlords for the Queensway site.

Marks & Spencer has been trading at its food halls throughout the lockdown, with some clothing available as well, and has reopened many of its cafes as takeaways.

The chain – whose shops include the large branches at Westquay and Hedge End – is working on plans to reopen more clothing stores in June, with safety measures based on those used at its food sites.

Waterstones – whose branches include those in Westquay, Winchester, Ringwood and Lymington – has said it put will books into a 72-hour quarantine after they are handled by customers who do not buy them. Staff will ask shoppers to leave any book they touch on trolleys which will be wheeled into storage for at least three days.

Boots has kept most of its stores open, with visors and protective equipment for staff. It said it would introduce more safety measures and would launch a virtual beauty service after temporarily removing testers and face-to-face consultations.

Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove has said shoppers would need to “exercise restraint” by not trying on clothing and testing goods when shops reopen.

The full list of retailers that can prepare to open from June 15 is as follows:

- Food retailers

- Chemists

- Hardware/homeware stores

- Fashion shops

- Charity shops

- Betting shops and arcades

- Tailors, dress fitters and fashion designers

- Car dealerships

- Auction houses

- Antique stores

- Retail art galleries

- Photography studios

- Gift shops and retail spaces in theatres, museums, libraries, heritage sites and tourism sites

- Mobile phone stores

- Indoor and outdoor markets

- Craft fairs

- Similar types of retail