The alarming surge in COVID-19 cases in recent weeks has prompted some retailers to beef up in-store safety policies, especially with the holiday shopping rush arriving early.
When the pandemic first hit back in the spring, retailers started rolling out numerous safety measures from plexiglass barriers at check-outs to floor decals for social distancing.
“The cashiers are always spraying down the conveyor belt when you go to cash out," said Sara Hernandez, a metro Detroit shopper.
“I think Meijer is really good when it comes to keeping people separated better," said Jackie Mason, another metro Detroit shopper.
“We have groceries delivered, and we do curbside pickup," said local shopper Richard Davis.
Now that this unprecedented holiday season is upon us, stores are gearing up.
Best Buy now offers – for in-store customers who need help – a digital queue, allowing them to even wait in their car outside.
And in an effort to avoid the usual crush of crowds seeking the much-sought-after gaming consoles, Best Buy is only selling them on bestbuy.com. The retailer is also making curbside pickup available before and after store hours to give customers more time to safely pick up their orders.
Target recently announced new in-store safety measures, including contactless self-checkout and technology that allows guests to skip waiting in line. Target has also doubled the number of parking spots for its popular contactless drive-up service.
Kohl’s new “Black Friday Week” precautions include stanchions and social distancing markers at all store entrances. A designated entrance with additional “exit” doors available on higher traffic days, and greeters who’ll distribute sanitized carts and offer free masks to customers who don’t have them.
By mid-December, Meijer shoppers will notice new hand sanitizer stations near high-traffic areas like entryways, pharmacies, produce areas, and checkout lanes.
Meijer is also now offering delivery services and free “Meijer pickup” on orders over $50 on meijer.com, as well as free Meijer pickup on all items from the “Meijer toy book.”
Kroger has expanded its time slots for “no-contact” pickup and delivery customers, waiving the $4.95 pickup fee nationwide for orders over $35.
Kroger’s improved “Scan, Bag, Go” mobile app allows customers to shop, scan, and bag their groceries as they go, paying with their phone once finished, bypassing the checkout altogether.
“I just wish this was all over with to get back to some normalcy," said Livonia resident Greg Kroll.
A feeling shared by many.
“It’s a joy just to be able to be on your feet and come out to shop," said shopper Richard Davis.
Each retailer I reached out to had some new or expanded safety measures, Except for Walmart. But Walmart did re-iterate it’s still taking all measures necessary to safeguard the well-being of those inside their stores, fulfillment centers, and distribution centers, Using guidance from the CDC and Walmart’s chief medical officer.
Stores have been at this since March. So, if they’re changing anything, it’s mainly to make life easier for the shopper and to reduce crowds.