But safety measures will make for a different kind of shopping experience.
After weeks of lockdown, several states and counties in the US are beginning to ease up on the lockdown measures that were put in place to slow the spread of Covid-19, and allow certain non-essential businesses to reopen. And among those businesses being allowed to reopen are clothing stores.
As retail chains like Nordstrom and Gap – eager to recapture brick-and-mortar sales lost over the past few weeks – prepare to reopen portions of their massive store fleets in states like Texas and Georgia, they’ve been sharing details around the safety measures they plan to put in place to curb disease transmission as much as possible. Some of those measures will depend on the guidelines dictated by local officials; for instance, in certain cities, retail stores can only allow curbside pick-up and delivery. Either way, they’ll make for a pretty different shopping experience for those who do venture inside.
Gap Inc. announced on May 6 that it plans to reopen 800 of its stores – spanning Old Navy, Athleta, Gap, Banana Republic, Janie and Jack and Intermix – before the end of May, beginning with “small selection” of Texas locations.
Among Gap’s health precautions are rigorous cleaning routines, hand sanitizing stations, closure of fitting rooms, supplying employees with masks, Plexiglass partitions at registers, signs encouraging social distancing, reduced hours, monitoring the flow of customers and quarantining returns for 24 hours before putting them back on the floor. The retailer also plans to expand its curbside pickup service, which is so far available at 75 locations.
Macy’s opened 68 stores on May 5 and another 50 by May 11 in states like Georgia, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas and Tennessee. It expects to open the remainder of its 775 stores by mid-June. Safety restrictions include not offering ear piercings, no touching of make-up samples, no bra fittings, fragrance samples only provided by employees, no alterations, no beauty service. Employees will undergo wellness checks and stores will include sneeze guards at registers and hand sanitizing stations.
While Nordstrom has yet to reopen any stores, it did announce plans to permanently close 16 of them. It will gradually reopen the rest in a “phased, market-by-market approach” based on where local officials allow it and using a number of safety precautions including: health screenings for employees, providing masks for employees and customers, creating social distancing, increasing sanitization, fitting room modifications, contactless curbside pickup, shortened hours, pausing “high-touch” services and quarantining returned items.
Abercrombie & Fitch began reopening stores as of May 8. Safety precautions include face coverings, employee wellness checks, enhanced cleaning, occupancy limits, plexiglass barriers in some locations, contactless payment options, reducing store hours and quarantining tried-on and returned items.
As of May 12, American Eagle Outfitters opened 208 of its 1000+ American Eagle and Aerie stores in various states, with plans to open 600 by the end of May. The measures it has taken to ensure safety include fewer fixtures to promote social distancing, plexiglass barriers, sanitizing stations, free face masks, limiting occupancy, quarantining items after they’re tried on and curbside pickup options.
While Tapestry Inc. – owner of Coach, Kate Spade and Stuart Weitzman – hasn’t yet fully reopened stores, it is offering pickup and/or “virtual shopping” appointments at about 40 US locations. When stores do open more fully, precautions will include increased cleaning, social distancing signage, masks where needed and sanitizing stations.
Urban Outfitters, Free People and Anthropologie are beginning to reopen stores in states including Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Utah. Safety measures include increased cleaning, social distancing reminders, occupancy limits, reduced hours, masks, cashless checkout, plexiglass guards, new fitting room procedures and contactless pickup at some locations.