As local politicians and governors make moves to reopen their cities and states, retail stores are finally getting the go-ahead to return to business. But they’re not returning to business-as-usual. Instead, the retail industry is making dozens of adjustments and micro-adjustments to accommodate the circumstances of the post-COVID-19 world.
Here are some of the ways that the retail industry is preparing to reopen in a safe and germ-free way:
Social Distancing has proven extremely effective in helping reduce the spread of COVID-19. Due to this, you should expect to see limits on the total number of shoppers allowed in a store at any given time. Also, spacing markers will continue to be used in stores to indicate the proper spacing distance of 6 feet when on lines. Other uses of floor markings could be the use of one-way lane directions, designed to prevent shoppers from passing in opposite directions. Smaller retailers may opt to require customers to make an appointment as a way to ensure traffic levels remain low.
Hand sanitizer is one of the simplest ways to curb the spread of COVID-19. Retail stores and shopping centers are providing hand sanitizer at entry points, exit points, and throughout stores to reduce the virus’s spreading among customers and employees.
Beyond that, stores are designing methods to keep their stores clean based on recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The CDC recommends a normal cleansing routine followed by the targeted use of a disinfectant if needed.
The recommendations are based on the type of surface being cleaned, how frequently the surface is touched, and whether the use of disinfectants is safe in that instance. For example, high touch surfaces such as doorknobs, countertops, handles, and touchscreens will require more frequent cleaning and disinfecting. By comparison, an area that has been unoccupied for 7 or more days would only require normal routine cleaning.
Waterstones, a UK based bookseller, recently announced that they will quarantine any books touched by a shopper but not purchased. The items will be quarantined for 72 hours. Other stores have adopted similar policies. Gap stores will quarantine returns for 24 hours, Nordstrom is keeping any returned or tried-on merchandise quarantine for 72 hours and Walmart Canada has simply opted to not accept clothing returns since March 20.
Stores that have reopened and stores that will soon open are taking extensive measures to keep their facilities sanitary. For example, many shopping centers now require their customers to use a facemask. While person-to-person transmission can happen easily in an enclosed place, wearing a facemask can drastically reduce the risk of spreading, according to guidelines from the CDC.
Some retail chains like Nordstrom and Saks Fifth Avenue require their employees to use facemasks at all times. By doing so, these stores will reduce the spread of coronavirus and show customers that they care, which improves brand image. Saks Fifth Avenue is going above and beyond by providing all of its employees with aesthetically pleasing facemasks with a sleek, non-medical look.
Contactless Curbside Service
Perhaps the enduring change from the pandemic will be the rise in curbside options for completing your transactions. Presently, contactless curbside pick-up offers employees and customers a low-risk transaction point. In the future, though, stores and customers will continue to take advantage of curbside pick-up. It makes the shopping experience quick, stress-free, and accessible for employees and customers alike.
For example, retailers including Macy’s, Nordstrom, Best Buy, DSW, and others allow customers to not only pick-up their online purchase through a contactless, curbside setting, but returns can also be handled in this manner.
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