Visitors flocked to Utah’s Sand Hollow State Park and barber shops in Georgia after some states reopened some public places.
Gap Inc. plans to reopen hundreds of stores this month, including some as soon as this weekend, another sign that the economic freeze spurred by the coronavirus may be slowly starting to thaw.
The retailer said it intends to reopen up to 800 locations under its various brands, including Old Navy, Banana Republic and Gap, by the end of May. A small number of stores in Texas will be back in business this weekend.
Like many companies, Gap shuttered its stores amid mandates that all but the most essential businesses close to foot traffic to help slow the spread of the coronavirus.
More than 30 states have now started to lift restrictions and more residents are emerging from their homes.
But the various steps Gap Inc. said it will implement to protect the health of customers and workers highlights the vastly different shopping experience that is likely to emerge in the wake of COVID-19.
Along with industry trade groups and peers, the company said it is “actively working with the local government, led by health official guidelines … to open our stores when and where it is safe to do so,” Gap Inc. said in a blog post.
Initially, stores will be open for fewer hours. Employees will be given reusable face masks and customers will be encouraged to cover their faces while shopping.
Hand sanitizer dispensers will be set up by the doors. Dressing rooms will be closed. And cash registers will sit behind plexiglass partitions.
Additionally, signs will remind shoppers of safe spacing, restrooms will be locked at least for the short term and returns will be “quarantined” for 24 hours before being placed back on sales racks.
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Retail has been among the hardest hit industries in an economy that has shed a record-breaking number of jobs amid a pandemic that’s led to more than 72,000 deaths in the United States.
Retail sales plunged 8.7% in March, the biggest month to month drop on record according to the National Retail Federation, an industry trade group. Consumer spending meanwhile, plunged 7.6% in the first three months of this year, the steepest dip since the second quarter of 1980.
“Getting back to work or shopping in a pre-virus manner is difficult to predict at this time, with households likely to tiptoe back in rather than making an immediate return to the lives they experienced before,” Jack Kleinhenz, NRF’s chief economist said in a statement.
Follow Charisse Jones on Twitter @charissejones
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