The retail sector has seen a sharp fall in sales in recent weeks. The lockdown has resulted in store closures across the country. But retailers need to be prepared to reopen when the situation improves. However, when this happens, it won’t be business as usual.
That’s why it’s essential to familiarize yourself with the best practices associated with running your store in a post-COVID world.
Will retail establishments open anytime soon?
That’s because the growth of COVID-19 cases is slowing. The “curve” is flattening.
We’ve prepared a checklist to tell you about the best practices to follow when you are making your store’s reopening plan.
Checklist of best practices for store reopening
1. Clean your store (the importance of ventilation)
If you’ve been closed for several weeks, it’s a good idea to deep clean the premises before you reopen.
The first step is to ventilate the store. Open the doors and windows and use fans to boost air circulation. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises that you should wait 24 hours before you start the cleaning and disinfecting process.
You can learn more about how to clean and disinfect your store on the agency’s Coronavirus Disease 2019 – Disinfecting Your Facility web page.
2. Ensure that you have the right equipment to clean and disinfect your store
You’ll need the correct disinfectants to carry out the cleaning process effectively. The Environmental Protection Agency publishes a list of disinfectants for use against SARS-CoV-2. Additionally, you can use diluted household bleach solutions or alcohol solutions with at least 70% alcohol content.
Focus on high touch areas.
Doorknobs, door handles, countertops, faucets, and light switches are especially important.
And remember that one of the best practices to follow when you are cleaning and disinfecting your store is to wear disposable gloves.
3. Prepare a sign that lets customers know that you’re reopening
Display your reopening sign prominently. Retail industry best practices require you to include the following information:
- The date your store is reopening.
- Opening time and closing time.
- The rules that you expect your customers to follow (wear masks, observe social distancing, etc.)
- Some information about the steps you have taken to ensure your customers’ safety.
Would you like to print and use this poster in your store? You can download a version you can fill with your own information here.
4. Change air filters
If you ignore this essential task, you could be unknowingly putting your employees and customers at risk.
What role does an air filter play?
These filters form part of your HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) system and need to be replaced periodically.
Dirty air filters could lead to dust, allergens, and other pollutants within the premises. Consult an HVAC expert to determine if yours need changing.
5. Arrange for masks and gloves for employees
In a recent publication, the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research points out that masks can play a crucial role in preventing the spread of COVID-19. Disposable gloves also provide an excellent way to avoid contact with the coronavirus. Make sure that your employees wear both.
6. Consider issuing a 6-20-100 guidance to your employees
Walmart has developed the 6-20-100 rule for its employees. Here’s what it means:
6: The distance, in feet, that employees should maintain between each other and with customers.
20: People should take at least 20 seconds to wash their hands.
100: If you have a temperature of 100 or more, stay at home.
7. Decide how often you will clean the store
Some of the best practices you adopt should focus on cleanliness and hygiene. Perhaps you can take a cue from the Chinese operations of Levi Strauss & Co. The clothing firm disinfects its Chinese stores three times every day. Customers require temperature checks and need to wear masks. If you try on a piece of clothing at the store, the fitting room, as well as the product you have tried on, are disinfected.
8. Train your employees
Your customers need to be reassured that you’re doing all you can to ensure their safety. One of the most important steps you can take is to provide an adequate level of training to your workers.
Here are several best practices in the area of infection prevention that you can introduce:
- Tell your workers they should stay home if they are sick.
- They should report any health concerns that they may have.
- The use of alcohol-based hand rubs should be encouraged.
9. Assess your finances
Your business will likely face a shortage of money. With sales plunging to zero for weeks, you could find it challenging to find the cash to meet your expenses.
You can get funds by applying to the PPP and EIDL programs, or by getting a small business loan.
10. Create a new approach to interact with customers
In the post-COVID world, you could need to implement some changes in your store. Here are some best practices to consider:
- Create additional space in the store so that customers can maintain a distance of at least six feet from employees and other shoppers.
- Think about introducing contactless payments. Publix Supermarkets, a supermarket chain, has launched “tap” payments in all its 1,200 stores.
11. Provide disinfecting gel for customers
Place the gel at different locations in the store and encourage customers to use it. This simple step could reduce the risk of infection in your retail establishment.
12. Get your restroom ready
According to Medscape, a website that provides medical information for clinicians, toilets could pose a risk for spreading COVID-19. Make sure that the bathroom in your store is clean. Follow best practices in the maintenance of restroom hygiene. Here’s what you can do:
- Clean and sanitize regularly.
- Provide adequate bathroom supplies.
- Provide paper towels for handling faucets and door handles.
13. Implement social distancing protocols in your store
This is one of the critical best practices to introduce to stop the spread of COVID-19. Tell your staff to assist customers in keeping a distance of at least six feet from others in the store.
Would you like to print and use this poster in your store? You can download it here.
14. Introduce curbside pickup
Even when you reopen, some customers may not want to take the risk of shopping in the store. Think about introducing curbside pickup. “Retail to go” is likely to be a popular way to buy in the post-COVID world.
Details by state
Here’s a summary of the status of the coronavirus restrictions as they apply to the opening of stores in several important states.
Grocery stores are classified as “essential services” and are open across the country. The details provided in this article pertain to nongrocery stores.
Retail establishments in the Sunshine State are set to open on May 4, but in Governor Ron DeSantis’s words, “in a safe, smart, and step by step” manner. Stores are permitted to function at only 25% capacity.
Stores in Texas can reopen on May 1. But certain restrictions have been imposed. They have to work at 25% capacity. Rural counties that have up to a maximum of four confirmed COVID-19 cases can function at 50% of their standard capacity.
Reopening of malls and retail establishments is still weeks away. No definite dates have been announced. California continues to remain under a statewide stay-at-home order.
New York is the worst affected state. At last count, it had 295,106 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 22,912 deaths. Store reopening is weeks away. No firm dates have been announced.
With almost 50,000 COVID-19 cases, Illinois ranks fourth in the list of states with the highest number of cases. However, some retail stores have been permitted to reopen for curbside and delivery options from May 1.
The state’s gyms and tattoo parlors are already open. So are movie theaters and restaurants. But nonessential retail is on standby.
Colorado is moving from a “stay-at-home” to a “safer-at-home” policy. What that means is some retailers are being allowed to reopen.
Although stay-at-home orders remain in force in Arizona until May 15, Governor Doug Ducey has announced that he would allow a “partial reopening of retail stores.”
There’s no indication when retail establishments will be allowed to reopen. Governor Larry Hogan says, “We’re not going to do anything that’s going to put anybody in more danger.”
The country is slowly getting back to normal. But there’s still a long way to go as many states remain under lockdown.
Store owners should use the time to prepare for reopening. If you’re ready when the restrictions are lifted, it will be far easier to start serving your customers and getting your business back to profitability. If you want to download this checklist you can use to make sure you’re ready to reopen, you can do it here.
At Camino Financial, we specialize in the issues facing small businesses. We know that at this difficult time, you should have easy access to the resources that could help you. So, we’ve created many articles that can help you thrive during these tough times.
We encourage you to read them and learn all about the government support and relief programs that are available as well as how you can prepare for a post-COVID economy.