Many retailers are operating at partial capacity, which means there should be room to keep your distance from other shoppers. But remember to limit what you touch and pick up.
Consider ordering items online for delivery or curbside pickup, especially if you are part of a high-risk population.
“I think it’s a good idea to limit non-essential shopping right now, even if your state is doing relatively well in terms of the number of cases,” says Dr. Steffanie Strathdee, the associate dean of global health sciences at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine.
When visiting a store or mall, the basics are key: Wear a mask that covers your nose and mouth and try to stay at least six feet away from other shoppers and employees.
Prepare to be compliant. Some stores will require masks or temperature checks upon entrance, plus you could be supervised more closely by employees who may handle merchandise on your behalf and enforce social distancing. Fitting rooms, restrooms, drinking fountains and play areas may be closed.
Limit what you pick up while browsing, and avoid touching your face while in the store.
Use Apple Pay or other touchless payment options at checkout, if possible.
When you return home, you should wash clothing you bought and plan to keep. If you want to try something on first, keep it sealed and separate from your other belongings for at least 24 hours. Wipe down other merchandise with disinfectant spray. Throw away packaging.
Consider screening employees. Implement questionnaires, self-certifications, temperature and other symptom checks or testing. Require employees to wear masks.
Disinfect everything—shopping carts, door handles, credit card machines, bathrooms and other high-touch surfaces—ideally after each use and in clear sight of shoppers. If fitting rooms are open, disinfect or segregate items for a period of time before putting them back on the floor. If you’re accepting returns, consider sealing and storing them separately for a period of time.
“Retailers are going to be sorted into winners and losers based on customers’ perception of their commitment to health and safety,” says Matthew Shay, president and CEO of the National Retail Federation.
Prevent crowding and follow state and local guidance regarding the number of shoppers that can be let in a store at one time. Station an employee at the entrance to control traffic. Place stickers on the floor to direct shoppers and consider audio messages to remind customers of safe shopping practices.