Social Distancing Retail Signage: A Simple Guide

Social distancing retail signage on stairway

Social distancing retail signage has become an important consideration since the outbreak of Covid-19 and the start of the UK’s lockdown. While huge numbers of shops across the country have been firmly closed, with little sign yet of things changing, for those, including supermarkets, which remain open, appropriate signage is vital.

That’s because, of course, to keep staff and customers safe and reduce the spread of the coronavirus, the government’s social distancing guidelines have radically altered the way we need to behave while out shopping. Everyone has had to get used to the new rules virtually overnight.

As we all know, that means, for example, probably having to queue before entering a store so that there are always fewer people inside at any one time, as well as staying at least 2 metres away from others at all times.

It goes without saying that no store has previously had to introduce such measures, so shops and customers alike are adapting, and retailers have had to produce social distancing signage at speed. No one already has this kind of retail signage conveniently to hand.

What is Social Distancing Signage?

Social distancing signs stress the importance of following the rules and remind us of the correct procedure.

As well as telling people to stay a minimum of 2m apart, for example, they can indicate that distance exactly, perhaps using floor graphics such as circles featuring a pair of feet. Other signage might remind people why they have to queue outside a shop, explain why takeaway coffees or similar services have been temporarily suspended, or highlight where shoppers can access hand gel or wipes for trolley handles.

For shops which are unable to open, signs can urge customers to stay safe and remind them that the store will reopen as soon as possible, meaning people don’t just see a locked door.

Social distancing retail signage can be interior or exterior signage and can be produced in keeping with your other branding for consistency of message.

Where Do You Stand?

In the absence of a vaccine or cure, social distancing is an effective way of reducing transmission of the virus, and actively helps ‘flatten the curve’ of transmission and save lives.

Behavioural change overnight is never easy, but social distancing signage reinforces what is expected, and reminds people about standing apart while showing clearly how much distance they need to put between themselves and others.

Social distancing retail signage is also important in terms of reassuring shoppers that a retailer is taking the situation seriously.

Implementing Social Distancing Retail Signage

There are many straightforward ways of integrating social distancing into existing retail signage, not least where a premises has plenty of space. Here, we outline some of the most effective kinds of social distancing signs and how they can be implemented in a retail environment.

#1 Vinyl floor graphics and signs

Floor graphics throughout a store are a key part of social distancing signage in retail and can be highly effective when it comes to directing foot traffic and keeping people apart. They can also be used in areas that may not spring quite so readily to mind, such as stairways or by lifts.

Equally, floor graphics can also be effective in smaller spaces, where it may be harder for people to keep apart and where it may be hard to find space for other signage.

Here’s how social distancing floor graphics and signage can be used to enhance safety:

Till point and queuing floor signage

Vinyl floor graphics can help customers to queue safely, 2m apart. You could introduce a clear ‘traffic light’ system, with green for the customer whose turn it is to be served, amber for the next person, and red for those behind.

Entrance and exit wayfinding floor signage

Clear wayfinding signage helps reduce contact as people enter and leave retail premises, and means people can focus on keeping their distance rather than trying to find the way out.

If the layout of a store has changed from what a customer was used to previously, this retail signage can help customers to travel in the right direction, for example to and from the exit and entrance, so that those who are leaving and arriving at the same time don’t walk right past each other.

Floor wayfinding graphics for one-way systems

One-way systems around shops are an important tool for retailers in terms of reducing social contact. For shops which have introduced these solutions to keep people moving and not bumping into each other, again floor graphics can help.

Point of entry floor graphics

Equally, as people enter a store, and adjust to being in a new environment as opposed to outside, it’s important to remind them to remain 2m apart, and again floor graphics at the point of entry are ideal for this.

#2 Stairwells and lift signage

These are often neglected parts of retail premises, where the potential chances of transmission can be quite high. For any store with stairwells or lifts, perhaps in staff-only areas, it’s worth having signage both on the floors and walls. It’s also a good idea to have one-way systems in place on stairs and to minimise numbers so that only one person or small group uses lifts at the same time.

Both vinyl floor and wall graphics (as well as potentially even window graphics) can work really well here.

#3 Exterior signage

Some form of retail signage should be visible to everyone before they come inside a shop, including, for example, advice not to enter if you or anyone you live with has been experiencing suspected Covid-19 symptoms. It’s also worth stressing the importance of staying at least 2m away from others at all times using exterior signage, so it’s front of mind before someone walks into a shop.

Floor Graphics

Outdoor signage for retail also reminds people to queue if necessary until they can enter the store. You can also help customers by marking out waiting spots at 2m intervals outside with external vinyl floor graphics.

Some retailers also use outdoor signs to remind shoppers about special opening hours set aside for specific groups, such as older people or NHS workers.

Post sleeves

This is one form of exterior signage for retail that can be remarkably effective in social distancing signage strategies, and is a good economical use of space. Simply create a piece of display material that essentially just slips on top of any posts that may be in a car park or other area outside the store.

#4 Employee checkout protection

Cashiers who come into contact with hundreds of customers on a daily basis are clearly at above-average risk of infection. Acrylic hygiene screens are easily installed at most checkout points, and offer enhanced protection from aerosol particles potentially containing the coronavirus.

#5 Roller banners and tension fabric systems

You may not have thought about these when you were first considering social distancing signage. But roller banners and tension fabric systems can be used effectively as part of your retail signage strategy. These graphic tools can serve as a constant reminder to people to maintain a safe distance, or highlight which items people should only buy a few of. Or you can just have a few ‘all in this together’ positive messages which assure customers you are taking their safety seriously.

These signs are hugely versatile and can be used as wayfinding signage, at tills and store entrances or anywhere throughout retail premises. Their versatility stretches to the varied range of sizes roller banners come in, while tension fabric systems give you retail signage on a bigger scale. They can also be used to create partitions if required.

At the same time, roller banners also work as directional and wayfinding signage, especially in the corners of aisles and other points where you need to remind shoppers of the one-way system.

Getting social distancing signage right

Given the current strains on finances, and the sheer speed with which social distancing retail signage has had to be fitted, it’s perhaps not surprising that some companies are taking shortcuts.

But doing a homemade, ultimately botched job could be a real false economy. Most businesses will only be able to print out A4 size, for example, so the end products could be flimsy and unprofessional.

Makeshift signs and tape on the floor won’t get noticed can just end up being moved, even if inadvertently, so simply won’t do the job you need them to do.

Let Rocket help with your social distancing retail signage

At Rocket, we’re a well established graphic installation and large format printing company and can help with this specialist social distancing retail signage. With extensive past experience in the retail sector, we’ve worked for big names like River Island, Selfridge’s and M&Ms World. So it’s an industry we know extremely well.

We’re currently working with a skeletal team, while strictly following all government safety guidelines. And we’re able to produce interior and exterior social distancing signage wherever you are in the UK, safely, to a high quality and with a swift turnaround. Get in touch with us today to learn more.