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COVID-19 Spikes Elevate Retail Concerns – WWD

Moving into the new year, rising COVID-19 cases – exacerbating the nation’s labor shortage – have left the retail industry in a precarious position.

While the spike globally in COVID-19 cases has not caused widespread store lockdowns, traffic to stores has slowed and many retailers are rolling out new lines. rope to stay away from society.

Retailers are monitoring the health crisis more closely than ever and stepping up health protocols. The rapid rise of the Omicron COVID-19 variant in December changed the game, although retailers are now better prepared to weather the health crisis than in 2020, once operational. success with COVID-19 related health and safety protocols.

Apple temporarily closed some stores around the country on Monday, but quickly reopened stores in Manhattan on Tuesday. A call to the carrier Fifth Avenue via autoresponder that it has new hours, from 8 a.m. to 12 a.m. Tuesday through Friday, which is New Year’s Eve.

“Apple was one of the first to close in March 2020 and the longest-awaited company before reopening its entire fleet in the United States; Craig Johnson, president of Customer Growth Partners, a research and consulting firm, said then some international locations will remain closed in 2021.

“One thing that we have seen is that some luxury stores are tightening their restrictions on people entering, for example Louis Vuitton, Gucci, limiting the number of customers at a time to no more than the number of employees, but some did this before Omicron.”

In the youth sector, Johnson added, “American Eagle Outfitters similarly restricted entry to many stores based on local conditions but tied tightly to holiday capacity controls like COVID-19.”

“More broadly, no one else we know has closed due to Omicron, but as we get through ‘season two’ we think some of the other stores in the hard-hit areas may be temporarily closed January and early February, usually the slowest time for most out-of-home and home improvement retailers [sectors],” Johnson said. Season two covers the days between Christmas and New Year and tends to be a strong week for stores, often with high traffic as consumers redeem gift cards and returns. Retailers are also starting to show spring merchandise and hope to capture additional full-price sales that way, while unleashing steeper discounts on fall/winter and holiday merchandise .

“While we don’t have any major updates to announce at this time, there are a few things we have done throughout the pandemic and continue to do amid the increase in variations, to keep safe for our team,” a Target spokesperson told WWD on Tuesday.

Target continues to require team members to undergo a full health check before coming to work each day and encourages its employees and shoppers to get vaccinated, including booster shots. spokesman said.

“We offer vaccination appointments at nearly all CVS at Target locations and offer paid time and free Lyft rides to members,” a spokesperson said. group members when they receive vaccines and boosters.”

Based on CDC guidance, Target requires face coverings for all team members and “recommends” face coverings for shoppers, which Target calls “guests,” in areas of high transmission risk. or substantial, as defined by the CDC.

“We will continue to recommend face coverings for members and unvaccinated guests, unless required by state or local authorization. We provide our team members with reusable and disposable masks to wear in the workplace and encourage healthy hygiene habits, as recommended by the CDC. ”

According to the spokesperson, Target has increased its cleaning and social distancing measures and is regularly adding in-home COVID-19 testing. Target also offers contactless in-store payments, take-out orders, and same-day delivery through a partnership with Shipt.

At Neiman Marcus Group, “While we have no plans to temporarily close stores at this time, we will continue to maintain our focus and will always be ready to react and adjust as needed. necessary to ensure the safety of our customers and associates. and brand partners,” a spokesperson said.

“There is no higher priority than the safety and well-being of our customers, associates and brand partners. We’ve taken a number of steps throughout the pandemic to support our customers, associates and brand partners, including increasing safety and increasing cleanliness in our stores. our goods. A spokesperson for NMG said we have been actively monitoring updates from the CDC and other health professionals to adjust our policies during the pandemic.

Macy’s Inc. “We have no announcements of store closures related to COVID-19 at this time,” said in a statement. Currently, all stores are open. We have always put the health and safety of our colleagues and customers first and foremost. We are monitoring the situation closely and will continue to follow CDC and regulatory guidelines. ”

Nordstrom Inc. said it has no plans to close any stores at this time.

At Gap Inc., a spokesperson said, “We have not heard of store staff shortages due to a spike in COVID-19 volumes.”

CVS Health also has no plans to close stores due to an increase in cases, a company spokesman said on Tuesday. The retailer also has no plans to change its prevention protocols at this time.

As of July 31, all CVS employees have been required to wear masks or face coverings at all work sites, including the company’s stores and pharmacies, the spokesperson said. , regardless of vaccine status until further notice. All customers in any CVS store are encouraged to wear a mask or face covering, regardless of their vaccine status. “More stringent cleaning procedures to align with recommendations from the CDC have also been in place since the beginning of the pandemic,” the spokesperson said. With 9,900 stores nationwide, last month, CVS announced plans to close 900 stores within the next three years. The first of the 300 stores scheduled to close next year will go ahead next spring.

Rosemary Feitelberg contributed reporting to this story.

https://wwd.com/business-news/retail/covid-19-spikes-elevate-retail-concerns-1235023639/ COVID-19 Spikes Elevate Retail Concerns – WWD

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