U.S. Fashion and Beauty Retailers Begin to Reopen

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Photo: Aaron J. Thornton/Getty Images

If for some reason you need to go to a Macy’s right now, you may be able to – depending on where you live.

After weeks of lockdown, several states and counties in the U.S. are beginning to ease up on the lockdown measures that were put in place to slow the spread of Covid-19, and allow certain nonessential 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 pickup and delivery. Either way, they’ll make for a pretty different shopping experience for those who do venture inside.

Below, we’re keeping up with major retailers as they announce plans to reopen, and looking at how they plan to do so in ways that keep shoppers safe.

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 this weekend. 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. More info here.

Macy’s opened 68 stores on May 5 and plans to open 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 makeup 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. More info here.

While Nordstrom has yet to reopen any stores, it did announce plans to permanently close (i.e. never reopen) 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. More info here.

Abercrombie & Fitch began reopening stores as of May 8. Safety precautions will 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. More info here.

As of May 12, American Eagle Outfitters had opened 208 of its 1,000+ American Eagle and Aerie stores in states including TX, SD, ND, AR, MO, NE, FL, AL, TN, SC and GA, 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. More info here.

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 U.S. locations. When stores do open more fully, precautions will include increased cleaning, social distancing signage, masks where needed and sanitizing stations. More info here.

Ulta Beauty will reopen 180 stores by Monday throughout Arkansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas and Utah. Precautions include face coverings, limiting occupancy, social distancing signage, eliminating testers, increased cleaning and wellness checks for staff. More info here.

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. More info here for Urban Outfitters, here for Free People and here for Anthropologie.

Blue Mercury announced Tuesday, May 12, , that it had begun reopening stores in Georgia, Tennessee, North Carolina and Ohio for curbside pickup only. The Macy’s-owned beauty retailer plans to open curbside services at 115 locations by the end of May, in hopes of starting to fully open up stores by mid-June. Once stores do reopen, associates will wear branded face shields and won’t allow testing, plus occupancy will be limited. More info here.

Saks Fifth Avenue began reopening locations in Texas last Friday, May 8, according to the New York Times. Per the retailer’s website, health precautions will include mandatory associate face coverings and daily health checks, thorough cleanings multiple times a day, hand sanitizer available throughout the store, extra precautions to ensure all returned merchandise is handled appropriately and reduced occupancy with density monitored throughout the day. There will be additional safety measures for dressing rooms, beauty areas and registers. More info here.

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