While wearing masks may become the new normal for shopping in grocery stores, clothing retailers are facing another set of challenges as they prepare to reopen — including new protocols for the fitting room experience and returns and exchanges.

The biggest challenge will be getting customers to return amid strict physical distancing, constant cleaning, plexiglass barriers at the point of purchase and mandatory masks.

Greg Wilson, the director of government relations for the Retail Council of Canada, says small stores will have a difficult task in making sure there’s adequate room for customers.

“Between customers they’ll have to do a clean of the high touch points, things like the door handles,”

Fitting rooms must be rotated and sanitized after each use. Any tried-on or returned merchandise is to be kept off the sales floor for a period of time.

The changes are a necessary burden for small retailers, which according to the retail council, will need the support of their communities to stay afloat as pandemic restrictions are eased.

“They’ve lost a season and they’re coming into a period where they have two years probably of much lower sales than they would have anticipated,” Wilson told Global News.

“So it’s going to be hard for them to survive that, the coming two years.”

The Latest Scoop, a clothing store on West 4th Avenue in Kitsilano, has found a solution: clothing quarantine. Customers are asked to leave items they don’t want in the fitting room.

“Then we have a staff member wearing personal protective equipment take those items and bin them into a clean and sanitized bin. The bin is sealed and labelled and put into what we’re calling our ‘quarantine area,’ and we are quarantining those items for 24 hours,” said Jada Campbell, The Latest Scoop’s director of retail.

Is ‘clothing quarantine’ the solution to B.C.’s fitting room problem?

Shoe returns or shoes that have been tried on will be removed from the sales floor to the back where they will be sprayed with disinfectant and kept off the sales floor as well.

Retailers could face lawsuits from sick patrons and workers after reopening, although health officials have said it’s highly unlikely a person can get COVID-19 through apparel or footwear. The sanitization, mask for associates and other steps are also designed to make customers feel comfortable enough to shop in public.

Source: Global News