Vapers had to get use to the new layout of their local vape shops this week (week commencing Monday 15th June) when they reopened for the first time since the country went into lockdown in March.
Social distancing markings, perspex screens at the sales counter, head visors warned by retail staff and restrictions on the number of customers in each store were features of the new look vape store experience as retailers followed government guidance to keep customers as safe as possible.
Said Doug Mutter, Manufacturing and Compliance Director at VPZ, one of the largest independent vape shop chains in the UK: “We’ve been extremely busy installing all the necessary measures so that we completely adhere to the government guidance to ensure the safety of our staff and customers.
“We would ask our customers to be patient as we follow distancing guidance which at times may limit the numbers of customers in store at any one time. We are also encouraging card payments (preferably contactless) and we have also removed all testers and device samples so nothing can be touched and passed around, but our expert trained staff are on hand to offer full advice as always.”
Added Andrej Kuttruf, Chief Executive at vape retailer Evapo, which has 37 stores in the UK:
“Our stores will be open on restricted opening times 10am – 5.30pm, 6 days a week. We have prepared Sneeze Screens at the till, hand sanitizers for customers, masks and gloves for our store teams and floor liners to indicate social distance. Our store teams will be wearing head visors and we are also selling a wide range of PPE and hand sanitizers to the public.”
In addition to introducing floor markings for social distancing, screens at tills and removing tester tanks, Oxford Vapours are also displaying large information graphics based on NHS advice on the pros of vaping and general information for vapers. The company is also providing PPE free of charge to customers for in-store use.
Says owner Dan Greenall: “One of the benefits of vape shops is the specialist advice they give to both smokers looking to quit and also vapers. Having such advice featured on our walls will help this process in the new shop environment.”
ECigWizard, which has 54 stores across the UK, has also been busy fitting out its shops with signage and equipping staff with PPE, including face coverings and gloves. The vape store chain has also provided additional cleaning products and hand sanitiser along with clear instructions on increasing cleaning at key touchpoints. All the stores’ testers have been removed from the shop floor whilst the company is in the process of identifying viable alternatives to offering testing samples which reduce cross contamination.
John Dunne, Director at the UK Vaping Industry Association (UKVIA), commented: “The industry has been phenomenally agile and resourceful in initially having to transition overnight to an online business model when shops had to close during the lockdown and then start up again with a very different operating environment.
“The lengths to which the industry has gone to get their shops ready for the new government guidance on social distancing in-store means that customers can feel very reassured about shopping in their local vape stores.”