“Shopping habits keep changing, and we’ll keep adapting,” says Sheffield M&S, 70 years after launching in the city
“The pandemic has touched almost every industry and corner of society,” says Chris Venters, the new store manager for Marks and Spencer Sheffield.
“It’s been a huge challenge for us all, but we’ve learnt a lot over the past few months.
“Im proud to work alongside a store team who have made incredible efforts to help us all through this difficult year, enabling us to continue serving everyone in our community.”
As the second national lockdown comes to a close next week, Chris reveals that he and his team are hard at work in the Fargate store, turning their attentions to preparing for a Christmas with a difference.
“It’s one of our favourite times of year - and this year is no different!
“We begin preparations for how we’ll dress the store well before products enter the stock room, and some products from our Christmas food range will keep arriving on the shelves until just a few days before Christmas Day.”
Marks and Spencer has been a fixture on the steel city’s high street for nearly 70 years, first opening its doors on September 23, 1949.
“Of course, shopping habits have changed a lot over the decades, and we continue to adapt with them,” confirms Chris.
“Few industries remain unchanged and it keeps us innovating. Shopping habits continually change and retail adapts to that.
“Footfall has changed, but so has basket spend, and the types of products people buy.
“There’s no doubt M&S is a brand that has a loyal following, and it’s a responsibility we’re happy to have because it keeps us at the top of our game, like adapting during the pandemic to reassure our customers that we’ve put all the proper precautions and extra cleaning measures in place to keep them safe.
“From facial coverings and social distancing guidelines, to revised shift patterns, we’ve adapted to make sure we keep each other safe.
“We have hand sanitiser at the door, increased cleaning, Perspex screens and all colleagues and customers must wear face coverings unless exempt.
“Our routines understandably include breaks for handwashing, and we monitor customer numbers to make sure people can practice social distancing.
“We also work hard to reassure customers that we are still available to support if they need us, just at the appropriate distance.”
At the start of this month, the store also introduced Sparks Book & Shop, an online reservation service available to Marks and Spencer customers.
Chris adds: “We’ve made real progress with our digital offer in 2020, with a Click and Collect service on our ground floor and pioneering new technologies like Mobile Pay Go in our Foodhall, which lets customers scan items on their smartphone as they shop and pay online without having to use the tills.”
And Chris says he’s been encouraged by seeing the way in which the people of Sheffield have come together at such a tough time.
“We’ve noticed a real sense of community spirit,” he nods.
“As a retailer we’ve supported community initiatives for decades and the response, both locally and nationally, to support those in need has always been phenomenal.
“There has been a united approach to helping the most vulnerable in our society throughout the pandemic and that has been very humbling to see.”