Marks and Spencer accused of ‘brazenly’ bending lockdown rules by selling non-essential clothes in store – The Sun

MARKS and Spencer has been accused of "brazenly" bending Covid rules by continuing to sell clothes in a posh London store.

Footage shows shoppers browsing sale rails of clothes in a west London branch – even though non-essential retail should be closed under lockdown rules.

A source said: "There is a huge clothes section in the High Street Kensington store, so it's brazen to keep it open.

"Small retailers are facing bankruptcy by following the rules, M&S are being reckless."

Government guidance states that shops with "sufficiently distinct parts" – such as separate floors – should close the non essential section.

The store in Kensington has separate floors for food and clothing – but Marks and Spencer told The Sun non-food floors are closed in all stores except where they provide access to the food hall – which is the case for this branch.

During the first nationwide lockdown, M&S was forced to close its clothing areas, including those in stores that also sold food.

M&S has 260 UK stores that sell clothing and food, out of a total of around 950

The retailer has 615 food-only shops.

The High Street staple came under fire during Britain's second nationwide lockdown in November when it didn't shut fashion sections.

At the time CEO Steve Rowe simply said: “Our stores will remain fully open. The guidance is very clear that those stores that are [within] essential [stores] may remain open.”

Shoppers fumed at the decision, with one writing on Twitter: "Why can you shop socially distanced in M&S but not in Next?"

Another joked: "Can Primark start selling pizza?"

The full Government guidance states: "Where a business has sufficiently distinct parts, and one section provides essential retail and one section provides non-essential retail, the non-essential sections should close to limit interactions between customers and the opportunity for the disease to spread.

"Sufficiently distinct sections might involve operating in separate buildings, across separate floors, a door between sections, using separate cashiers, or another clear demarcation between sections.

"For example, a food shop may stay open, but a homeware section on a separate floor or separate building should close."

Marks and Spencer declined to comment but pointed out that non-food floors are closed in all stores except where they provide access to the food hall – which is the case for their High St Kensington branch.

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