M&S shopping rules: Retailer clarifies lockdown changes to stores and refund policy

The retailer has answered its customers’ questions about lockdown, with many asking for the latest news regarding returns policies and how much they’re allowed to buy in the food halls. Marks and Spencer has had to close all of its homeware and clothing stores, keeping only its food shops open as the public are told to shop for essentials only. 


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With the lockdown firmly in place for the foreseeable future, many shops are updating their opening hours, shopping restrictions and shopper rules in response to the ever-changing situation. 

Keeping its customers informed, M&S has added new information to its website to make sure its shoppers understand the rules. 

The new changes include temporary limits on what you can buy in store. “There is plenty of food for all of us, if we just buy what we need. But because of unprecedented demand, we’ve introduced temporary purchasing restrictions on some products,” the company wrote.

Putting the nation’s minds at rest and reassuring them they’ll find what they need, the retailer also said: “We have put in a number of measures to ensure stores are well stocked throughout the day and we will continue to do this.”

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Here are the most common customer questions about M&S answered. 

What is the new returns policy during lockdown? 

M&S has extended its returns policy so that you now have 90 days for returns, for items bought both online and in-store. Sale items are not included.

When can NHS workers shop in M&S? 

M&S has introduced key worker-only hours to help make it easier for NHS heroes to access the products and services they need. NHS, emergency service and health and social care workers only can shop every Tuesday and Friday during the first hour of trade. 

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Will stores be checking key workers’ ID? 

M&S has said they will ask NHS staff, carers and emergency services workers to show their staff passes or relevant ID such as a Blue Light Card or Care Quality Commission ID. 

Adding the new mantra that ‘we’re all in this together’, the food giant said that it’s hoping it won’t have to police this and ask customers to respect the request. 

What counts as a ‘vulnerable’ customer?

“M&S welcomes any customer who feels they are in a vulnerable category to shop during the special opening hour,” says the retailer on its website. 

Those who are unsure can check with the NHS, which has given advice on who is most at risk. 

This includes those with long term health conditions and weakened immune systems, the elderly and pregnant women.

The first hour of business on Mondays and Thursdays is reserved for both vulnerable and older customers, aged 70 and over as per the government guidelines. 



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Can customers shop on behalf of a vulnerable or older person during the special shopping hours? 

M&S has asked that only those in the vulnerable or older group shop during the first hours on Mondays and Thursdays, even if you are shopping for someone in that category. This helps to keep others safe and ensures its quieter for those who are most at risk.

What are Marks and Spencer’s new opening and closing times during lockdown?

Opening hours vary from store to store, so M&S recommends checking your local store’s opening times online.

Bear in mind that the first hour of trading on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays is reserved for vulnerable, older and key worker customers only. 

How have the Sparks points rules changed?

M&S has increased the period to add Sparks points from 30 days to 90 days.

How can shoppers stay safe in store?

“Our stores are carefully managing the number of people shopping at any one time. We have introduced floor markings to ensure a two-metre space is maintained between customers as well as installing protective perspex screens at checkouts. 

“Our stringent hygiene procedures mean colleagues are washing their hands every 30 minutes as well as thoroughly cleaning trolleys and baskets throughout the day, and cleaning self-checkouts after every customer. We are also deep-cleaning all stores every evening.”

The contactless payment limit at M&S has also been raised to £45.


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