Helping Prepare Retail for Reopening After COVID-19 Shutdowns
By DMM contributor Samuel K. Beck
In a recent interview with CNN, the National Retail Federation’s CEO Matthew Shay described “Operation Open Doors”, the NRF’s set of guidelines to aid member stores in reopening.
With over a million retail employees furloughed, the NRF is committed to steering retailers back to full strength as safely and effectively as possible. The published checklist includes protocols on transitioning employees back to work, managing logistics, and implementing health policy. Additionally, the NRF, in tandem with the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA), published “A Blueprint For Shopping Safe”, an exhaustive phase by phase approach to reopening stores nationwide. This larger blueprint proposes protocols to accord with Center For Disease Control (CDC) guidelines and is based off of the successful practices of stores that have remained open since the beginning of the pandemic. It defines three main objectives: (1)“Protect our communities” (2) “Allow for the safe reopening of retail” (3) “Establish clear expectations for employees and customers”.
The Blueprint defines three phases to reopening:
- Phase One: Ecommerce, curbside pickup and home delivery would be allowed.
- Phase Two: Stores would be reopened to the public but with tight protocols such as social distancing: Reduced occupancy, and robust hygiene and sanitation practices in place.
- Phase Three: Retailers will gradually scale back the protocols of the second phase until a new normal is reached.
To account for the unique challenges that each state faces, the Blueprint urges governors to establish clear standards for retailers and government agencies. “Uniform, statewide standards ensure the reopening of the economy is safe, efficient, and productive for customers, employees, and enforcement agencies alike.”
Shay has stated, “Consistent guidelines – without overburdensome regulatory schemes – across all levels of government is critical”.
With challenging economic and social conditions in the wake of COVID-19, the commitment of the retail industry to the proposed guidelines is paramount to getting our economy running safely and efficiently again.