The Government’s announcement that face masks will be mandatory in shops from 24th July highlights the continued need to address new consumer priorities as we emerge from lockdown. 

The details of public policy have been much debated and, as we have seen across the Atlantic, mandating the use of face masks is not universally popular. However, consumer behaviour is increasingly driven by new priorities post-Covid. Health, Home, Habit and Hygiene are likely to be the main drivers behind shopping, dining and purchasing habits for some time. How retailers address these will be an important component in the customer experience, particular as we head into autumn and into winter.

Making this change a matter of public policy alleviates the pressure on retailers to enforce face mask wearing themselves – which may come as a relief to many not wishing to create tension between their business and consumers. And, combined with social distancing and enhance hygiene regimes, the wearing of face masks is one of a number of measures needed to increase consumer confidence and help the beleaguered sector recover.

Acting now should give shoppers a chance to become accustomed to new habits and will, one hopes, create a safer shopping environment for the seasonal peaks later in the year.