America’s national retailers are preparing to make a comeback after shuttering for several months due to the coronavirus pandemic. And while we can expect to see our favorite names including Macy’s, Nordstrom, and Gap reopen soon, everyone is gearing up to operate under a new normal, where social distancing rules, regular temperature checks, and face masks apply.
When clothing giant Gap reopens 800 of its stores (including Old Navy and Banana Republic) this month, customers should expect their shopping experience to be relevant to the times. The clothing retailer plans to keep bathrooms and fitting rooms closed entirely, it will require employees to wear face masks, and it will deploy hand sanitizers near entrances and cash registers. It also plans to quarantine returned items for 24 hours before these are brought back to the sale floor (via The Washington Post).
Nordstrom has changed its store to allow for social distancing
Upscale retailer Nordstrom is also getting ready to reopen its department stores in phases, after they get the go-ahead from state and local governments, and after new safety measures have been put in place. “We want to be sure the approach we’re taking to reopen our stores is thoughtful, and that we’re creating a store environment that’s safe for everyone,” Pete and Erik Nordstrom wrote on the company website (via RIS News).
Nordstrom expects to provide masks for both its customers and employees, and have also changed the store’s layout to allow for social distancing. Stores plan to introduce new rules in what they call “high-touch shopping areas” including beauty, jewelry, shoes, and sunglasses, increasing sanitation to those areas. And like Gap, Nordstrom is also closing some of its fitting rooms, cleaning those that remain open after every customer has used it, and quarantining items after they have been fitted before returning them to the floor. If you’re happy to keep shopping online, Nordstrom will add a drive-thru order pick-up to its contactless curbside delivery service.
Retailers don't expect customers to start shopping immediately
Nordstrom and Gap aren’t the first retailers who have said they are ready to make a comeback. Macy’s has also said it will reopen its stores gradually over the next few weeks. Macy’s put similar pandemic measures in place too, but even then it predicts that the number of guests that are expected to walk though their doors in the coming days and weeks will be underwhelming for a while.
With the pandemic still an active part of life, retailers are also working together to make sure that their stores are able to guarantee public safety; some stores may even limiting occupancy to five persons for every 1,000 square feet of shopping space. Retail associations have said they are hoping to leave the decision on when to reopen on the shoulders of state governors, because they can say whether the number of new infections is going down, or whether testing is good enough to prevent the number of new COVID-19 cases from rising (via Bloomberg).
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