Welcome to the Twilight Zone. As if life in the age of COVID-19 hasn’t been weird enough, the reopening of stores has us all feeling a little on edge. On one hand, we’re excited to step back into our favorite retail destinations. But we’re also extremely nervous about risking our health for the sake of in-person shopping. It’s a balancing act, and everyone has their own comfort threshold. You may be chomping at the bit to try on shoes and purchase throw pillows, or you could be reluctantly returning to stores for essentials only. Either way, taking a few smart precautions will help make the experience safer, less stressful and more enjoyable. Here are some important tips to keep in mind.
Know What You’re Heading Into
Some stores have changed their hours in light of the COVID-19 pandemic to protect shoppers and employees, so do your due diligence ahead of time to save yourself unnecessary headache. You can even call to ask if they have implemented any safety measures to help prepare yourself mentally for this new normal.
Shop With Intention
If you’ve been grocery shopping these last few months, you know the drill. You want to get in and out quickly and shop with efficiency and intention. If you’re going to a store with specific needs, make a list so you stay on track. It can be tempting to leisurely browse and dawdle, but you want to limit your in-store exposure. Plus, if you streamline the experience, you are less likely to buy extra things you don’t need.
Keep Your Social Distance
We know it’s been drilled into you, but it warrants repeating: try to maintain at least six feet of distance from other shoppers and employees at all times. Many stores have taken measures to help you stay physically apart. There may be markings on the floor and fiberglass partitions to limit your face-to-face interactions.
Wear a Mask
Show respect for your fellow shoppers and the retail employees stocking your favorite items by wearing a mask at all times. Protect each other and help slow the spread of COVID-19. Many states and stores have implemented a mandatory mask policy. Regardless of rules and regulations, be proactive to protect yourself and others—mask up.
Mitigate stress with preparation. Always have a few nifty supplies on hand when shopping. Keep your hand sanitizer within reach and consider bringing your own disinfectant wipes; you can sanitize communal surfaces like a shopping cart or even clean your credit card before putting it back in your wallet. Of course, when you get home from shopping, be sure to thoroughly wash your hands for at least 30 seconds.
Many stores are offering curbside pickup. If you want to avoid going inside a store, this is a great alternative. You can get what you need on demand without having to leave the comfort of your car. Just pop your trunk and a store employee will stash your items. Though this is not new, many stores are also offering options to buy online and pickup in store, so you can go in and out.
If you’re purchasing clothes, consider skipping the dressing room – many are actually closed – and try on items at home. If you don’t like the fit or look, you can always return it at a later date. Just be sure to note the specific store’s exchange and return policy. Many retailers have extended their return dates, while some are still not accepting returns at all. Call your local store to check.
And if you’re still feeling nervous, stick to shopping online for now. You can get everything you need at the click of a mouse. And don’t forget to shop with Rakuten to earn Cash Back on all your purchases.
Here are some tips and retailers and services to consider:
Lauren is a digital editor, freelance writer, and Instagram aficionado with a feisty five-year-old boy and a sassy two-year-old diva at home. With a passion for family, travel, style, and alliteration, she spends her days chasing children, chugging coffee, and daydreaming about sleep. As a veteran lifestyle editor and media mom, Lauren loves to find ways to make the aspirational attainable for all the overwhelmed parents out there—because we really need to stick together! Lauren lives with her husband and kiddos in the suburbs of New York City.