John Lewis customers will be able to book a shopping slot in advance when shops reopen next week.
The retailer, which has 42 stores across the UK, is already offering online booking for its Cardiff, Aberdeen and Edinburgh branches and will extend the system to stores in England from 2 December when the restrictions lift.
It is hoped it will reduce queuing outside stores, which has been a problem for retailers due to the need to restrict customer numbers in accordance with social distancing guidelines.
This could pose a particular issue over the coming weeks when brick-and-mortar retailers are hoping for a Christmas shopping rush after a month of zero footfall.
John Lewis, which has 42 stores across the UK, is introducing the online booking system in a bid to reduce the need for customers to queue outside. Pictured, the Oxford Street flagship
Customers are able to pre-book a slot at 15-minute intervals up to two weeks in advance. The online booking system indicates when a particular time is fully booked.
Shoppers are still able to visit a John Lewis store without pre-booking. However if they arrive on the day to find queues outside might be added to a ‘virtual queue’ and be asked to return at a specific time later in the day.
The hope is this will help spread footfall over what the retailer will be hoping is a busy festive period.
There will also be extended opening hours in place across some stores. Customers can also order online or use the Click & Collect service.
Pippa Wicks, Executive Director, John Lewis says: ‘We’re excited to reopen our shops in England and we’re looking forward to welcoming back our customers to help them make this Christmas extra special.
‘Our priority is to make sure that they are able to shop as safely and easily as they can, whether in our shops or online, while continuing to be delighted and inspired by our Christmas offer.
‘While the nation is famous for it’s love of queuing, we want to make sure that as temperatures drop, our customers have the chance to do their Christmas shopping in a comfortable, convenient way, however they choose to shop with us.
‘Our Partners have been busy making our shops look and feel as festive as ever and we hope that they will bring our customers some Christmas cheer as they prepare for the festive season.’