M&S to help customers Christmas shop with confidence

December 01, 2020 - United Kingdom

From December 2, all M&S stores in England will reopen all clothing sections, with the retailer pledging to help customers shop with confidence during this Christmas. M&S wants to make the festive shop enjoyable, with customers telling the retailer shopping helps get them into the Christmas spirit and that they enjoy inspiration from shopping in-store.  
Taking the lead with helping M&S customers shop with confidence is the retailer’s team of 1,800 “Magic Makers” sashed up and on hand to help. These colleagues, selected for their customer service skills, will manage counting customers into stores to ensure social distancing using M&S’s bespoke app and they will be there to answer any customer queries.  No M&S door will be seen without a “Magic Maker” meaning up to eight will be on shift at any one time in M&S’s biggest stores. 
M&S will be reopening with extended shopping hours which will gradually increase up until Christmas and from December 21-23, two-thirds of shops (around 400) will be open until midnight. These are M&S’s longest-ever opening hours and for customers planning ahead, are all available now on M&S’s store finder (available on the app or website) so customers can find information on their local store. 
M&S has focused on utilising digital solutions to ensure social distancing is maintained whilst queues are minimised. Sparks Book & Shop is live at all UK M&S stores so customers can book to shop at a time that suits them - over 175,000 slots have now been booked by customers. Customers can also skip the queue at any store using Mobile Pay Go – M&S is the first major retailer to fully roll out this tech.
For those who do have a short wait when they arrive, M&S has begun to install temporary “festive tunnels” to shelter customers from the winter weather. Decked out with QR codes, they link through to the M&S product developers’ top picks for festive food to provide inspiration while you wait. 
Adding to the festive joy, M&S is introducing Sparks ‘12 Days of Giveaways’ a daily giveaway which will result in over 7,500 customers receiving their in-store or online basket for free from matching family PJs to all the food for the big day. The giveaway will include one customer every day at every single store, as well as 50 customers a day online. Currently, one Sparks customer a week gets their shopping for free in every store & online (23,000 baskets have been given away since Sparks relaunched in July). Good things happen every time customers shop with Sparks (even if you don’t get your basket for free) as M&S donates to a customer’s chosen charity. 
“Our store teams have been incredible throughout this time, and this Christmas season they’re stepping up again to keep everyone safe, and to help keep Christmas special. After this year, we know customers want to deliver the magic for their loved ones - from the food they love to the perfect thoughtful gift - so we want to play our part to make shopping easier. This Christmas, in addition to our extensive hygiene measures, we’re offering our longest-ever opening hours and important new services like ‘Sparks Book and Shop’, whilst still delivering the festive feeling and inspiration customers are after in our shops,” Sacha Berendji, M&S’s retail, operations & property director, said in a press release.
In addition to shops being safe, customers have been clear they want to feel “Christmassy” when they get back into the shops. M&S’s latest survey shows three-quarters of customers are looking forward to Christmas overall and they’re planning to do 40 per cent of gift shopping in-store. From reopening day M&S has added the touch of festive magic: Christmas music on the M&S stores playlist will rise to 80 per cent, customer Christmas hand sanitiser will start to appear in shops in two scents (apple & cinnamon and gingerbread), and the team has increased efforts with in-store decorations - with over 8,000 Christmas trees up across the M&S store estate. 
All M&S stores continue to have robust cleaning processes in place and extensive signage to encourage customers to be kind, give everyone space & cover their face. For customers shopping online, M&S continues to offer contact-free delivery and free click & collect, no matter what you spend, to over 600 stores.