Coronavirus pandemic continues reshaping the world of retail

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Despite empty mall parking lots, changes to the shopping experience are coming as retailers slowly open their doors amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Consumer analysts said customers will have higher expectations.

"They expect to see the workers with masks, they expect to see the sanitizer they expect to see gloves," said Josh Lamb, Senior Vice President of ShopKick.

Macy's announced customers will no longer touch makeup samples, they aren't allowed to try on dress shirts and they will be required to use hand sanitizer before trying on accessories.

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Macy's CEO Jeff Gennette outlined several changes in a presentation Thursday, including:

*Bra fittings are on hold until further notice

*Dress shirts will not be available to try on in-store

*Customers have to use hand sanitizer before trying on jewelry and watches

*Fragrance samples will be given on blotters, at customers' requests

*Beauty and makeup testers will only be for customer viewing, not sampling

*Alteration services suspended

*Ear piercing services not allowed

*All "spa-like services" suspended

Macy's employees will have to wear company-issued masks, undergo "wellness checks" before going to work, and clean high-touch surfaces frequently.

Sneeze guards will be installed at checkout counters and hand sanitizer will be installed at stations around the store.

Daniel Binder, partner of Columbus Consulting, provided guidance to major retailers regarding reopening plans. He said companies are focusing on employee training and cleanliness throughout stores.

"Fitting rooms, how you handle testing product or trying it on, no longer is a conventional approach and what retailers will have to figure out is how they do that, perhaps through digital channels or magic mirrors," said Binder.

Some shoppers around the Philadelphia area said it's time that the malls reopen because online shopping just isn't the same.

"Online is different because trying on the clothes, you know, it has to fit right and look right on me so it's a big difference," said Joe Winfield of Darby.

Nordstrom CEO Pete and Erik Nordstrom announced the following changes:

*conducting health screenings for our employees;

*providing face coverings for employees and customers;

*taking steps to allow for social distancing of six feet or more, including limiting the number of employees and customers in the store;

*increasing cleaning and sanitization;

*modifying the fitting-room experience;

*continuing to offer contactless curbside services at selected Nordstrom stores;

*pausing or adapting high-touch services and customer events;

*keeping tried-on or returned merchandise off the sales floor for a period of time;

*altering hours of operation.

Binder said it is too soon to tell if these safety precautions will affect a company's bottom line.


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