Retailers Are Reopening Their Doors. Here’s How They’ll Keep Consumers Safe

Macy's, Kohl's and Nordstrom are among those forging ahead after Covid-19 shutdown

Retail chains like Gap, Kohl's and Macy's will reopen soon. Getty Images
Headshot of Mónica Marie Zorrilla

Key insight:

While confirmed cases of Covid-19 continue to rise throughout most of the country, some states are itching to reopen despite federal public safety guidelines recommending gradual comebacks—namely, that states need to see at least a two-week decline in cases and must have robust testing in place for front-line workers.

At the same time, pressures from the looming economic recession caused by widespread lockdowns are pushing retail chains to reopen. The following stores will be opening their doors to the public throughout May, but with strict protocols to ensure customer safety.

While many retailers are taking different approaches, they are executing a few common practices such as keeping fitting rooms closed, installing plexiglass sneeze guards at checkout counters, and displaying signage encouraging social distancing.

Best Buy

Minnesota’s Geek Squad purveyor, electronics chain Best Buy, started reopening 200 locations earlier this month. The catch? In-store consultations will have to be done by appointment. Customers will get one-on-one service from staffers who must wear facial coverings and gloves, and will escort their designated shopper to and from their appointments. Areas of high traffic throughout the store will be sanitized more frequently. Cash payments will not be accepted. Employees will be required to do daily health check-ins through the company’s app.

Chico’s

Chico’s four brands—White House Black Market, Soma, TellTale and its namesake store—have been reopening on a rolling basis since May 4. The retailer has introduced a shop-by-appointment service (similar to the one implemented at Best Buy).

The women’s clothing chain has fared well financially during the lockdown. Reportedly, Chico’s experienced double-digit digital percentage growth since its brick-and-mortar stores shuttered in mid-March and a new proprietary method of virtual styling, Style Connect, was adopted across its stores.

Gap

Gap’s namesake stores, as well as Athleta, Banana Republic, Intermix, Janie and Jack, and Old Navy, will open their doors by the end of this month with new hygiene protocols in place, as well as reduced store hours and foot traffic. Items that have been tried on or returned will be held before they’re returned to the sales floor. Fitting rooms and restrooms will remain closed for the time being.

David’s Bridal

The American bridal and formalwear store, which came out of bankruptcy at the beginning of 2019, plans to reopen all of its over 300 locations open by June 1.

The wedding dress brand began opening doors on a rolling basis in mid-April, with limited store occupancy and scattered appointment times. Only two people are allowed at in-store appointments. Stores will operate with modified hours, and will be closed Tuesdays and Saturdays to dedicate extra hours to cleaning and sanitation.

Tape markings on the floor in each location will serve as reminders for social distancing, but the brand does caution that, due to the intimate nature of alterations, stylists will have to get in close proximity. Cash payments will not be accepted.

Dick’s Sporting Goods

The Pennsylvania-based company reportedly furloughed most of its 40,000 employees in mid-April. As early as this past weekend, Dick’s Sporting Goods reopened more than 250 locations in 25 states across the country, including Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia.

New social distancing protocols have been applied, as well as designated shopping hours for at-risk customers (8-9 a.m. Monday through Saturday, and 9-10 a.m. Sunday). Dick’s Sporting Goods will continue to offer curbside contactless pickup for shoppers who do not want to enter the stores.

Kohl’s

Kohl’s reopened its doors in four states—Arkansas, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Utah—on May 4, and 10 additional stores are slated to open May 11. Operating hours have been reduced from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily until further notice, and dedicated hours for at-risk shoppers will take place every Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 11 a.m. to noon.

Other new health safety measures include removing in-aisle fixtures to accommodate social distancing; enforcing touchless payment; establishing sanitation stations; associates sanitizing carts between use and limiting customer occupancy. Employees will be subjected to mandatory wellness and temperature checks before every shift, and will have to wear masks and gloves.

Macy’s

This week, department store veteran Macy’s reopened 68 locations, with plans to reopen the majority of its stores (including Bloomingdale’s and Bluemercury) by mid-June.

Other than increasing the frequency of cleaning and sanitation, Macy’s will also place hand sanitizer dispensers and social distancing reminders throughout the store. Customers will need to use hand sanitizer before trying on jewelry. Clothing that has been tried on or returned will be held before returning to the sales floor, and most services that require close proximity (such as bra fittings or alterations) will remain closed.

Beauty consultations will not be suspended, but there will be no-touch limitations so that customers cannot handle sample products.

Nordstrom

Seattle-headquartered luxury department retail chain Nordstrom will begin opening its stores (including its Nordstrom Rack outlets) on a rolling basis, though it remains unclear which locations will be operating first.

Nordstrom plans to limit the number of customers in stores, close some fitting rooms and increase cleaning and sanitizing. The retailer is also implement drive-thru pickup and virtual stylist consultations. Facial coverings will be provided for workers, shoppers and vendors.

Clothing that has been tried on or returned will be held before returning to the sales floor, and services that require close proximity (such as brow shaping, alterations or in-store restaurant dining) will remain closed. Cash payment will not be accepted.


@monicroqueta monica.zorrilla@adweek.com Mónica is a breaking news reporter at Adweek.
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