The COVID-19 pandemic has caused major changes in the way we shop. Adjusting to social distancing and other restrictions has been overwhelming for some shoppers while others have complied without objection. Shopping is one goal that almost everyone aims to achieve without interruption; whether it’s a quick run to the grocery store or to catch a sale at a clothing retailer. Since the holidays are quickly approaching, are you wondering how you can prepare for holiday shopping during COVID?
Black Friday is a day when many shoppers rise early to purchase limited quantity items and face resilient crowds who want to be the first to grab a prized product. However, COVID-19 has changed this year’s course of shopping madness. As a result, it is imperative that a COVID holiday shopping strategy is implemented to avoid any unwanted health concerns.
Prepare a Personal Shopping Guide
Organize Shopping Times
Opt For Pick Up Service
Use Online Shopping as Much as Possible
Stay Informed with Retail Newsletters
Follow CDC and Store Guidelines Carefully
Enjoy Shopping While Staying Safe
Although states and businesses have restrictions and guidelines in place, these tips are offered to answer the question: what should you know about shopping this holiday season? A personalized COVID holiday shopping guide can be a compass to help you navigate stores successfully. This type of guide can also help you stay organized without exceeding your budget.
The first step to creating a COVID holiday shopping guide is to make a list of the items you want to buy and a list of retailers you want to shop with. When you prepare these types of lists, you’ll be able to browse online to view which retailers have the products in stock. You can also choose a location near you if you prefer to pick up your purchases. This can reduce time spent walking through stores for an extended period of time only to discover that a location does not have the item in stock. If you follow this process for all or most of your items, you may be able to shop in the same area instead of traveling long distances between stores.
One way to avoid large crowds while shopping during COVID is to schedule a time when most traffic is slow. Ideally, morning or afternoon hours at a store that is not as popular as a big box retailer may work better. Oftentimes, major retailers have large crowds throughout the day. This makes it hard to find products that you may have researched online but when you arrive, the products are gone. In an effort to avoid this experience, it would be beneficial to research every store in your local area or outside your local area and monitor the product up to an hour before your arrival. This strategy can allow you to create a plan to visit another store in the same area that may have the product in stock.
You may also be able to avoid massive crowds, if you shop with a holiday shopping guide on days which are not heavy traffic days. For example, you can call and ask which days tend to be busier for the store you'd like to visit. Busy days will vary based on the retailer, location of the store and items they will have in stock. To stay abreast of inventory, you can also ask what day of the week deliveries come to your chosen retailer. Schedule your shopping around the arrival of product to increase your chances of finding what you need. This type of local shopping may seem like you’re moving through a figurative maze, but the protection of your health should remain a priority during this critical time.
Since many stores offer pick up service, this option will allow you to have a personal shopper while allowing time for you to run other errands before you arrive. You won't have to walk long aisles, wait in line, or come in contact with other shoppers.
The ability to shop online makes it convenient to analyze products carefully without rushing and you can compare prices among several retailers. You can also take advantage of Cyber Mondays to avoid crowds that could be in potential COVID-19 hotspots. All you need to do is plan ahead to ensure that the estimated shipping times will be before the holidays.
However, there are some situations you should be aware of when shopping for items such as furniture. While it is known through news sources that the pandemic has affected sectors such as schools, restaurants, and sports arenas, the furniture industry also experienced delay times in shipping due to a production halt at the beginning of the crisis. As a result, furniture shipping can be delayed up to 8 weeks.
Sometimes it can be challenging to check your favorite stores for the latest sales or promotions on a frequent basis. However, email newsletters are a good way to stay informed and can be an alternative holiday shopping guide. For example, Rhino Brand may have a promotion soon and offers a newsletter sign up option so that you can be among the first to receive the sales information. You can also acquire gift ideas you may not have considered when suggestions are provided in email newsletters.
It’s easy to get excited when you enter a store and see more products than you anticipated. While browsing the aisles, the chances of you bumping into other shoppers who may not be paying attention will likely increase. Therefore, you must stay alert. If you don’t, the ramifications could add additional stress to your holiday preparation and plans. It is important to be mindful of your surroundings when shopping. If there are several shoppers in an aisle you want to browse, exercising a little patience until they pass through would keep you in adherence to the suggestions provided by the CDC and most retailers.
In addition to wearing a mask and the reasons associated with this practice, gloves are an important protective measure that can help ward off germs when touching shopping carts, products, and payment touch pads. Contact-less credit and debit cards are other options that can be used if you do not want to touch readers. You can also download coupons to your phone to speed up the check out process.
Although many industries and establishments are attempting to return to normal, Coronavirus is still a concern. The number of cases continue to fluctuate so it might be too early to shop as we normally would. According to the CDC, it only takes about 15 minutes of having been in contact within six feet of an infected individual for the virus to spread. Citizens are now being advised not to become relaxed with taking precautions.
While shopping, we must remain cognizant of standing on designated spots while waiting in lines to ensure we are not within close proximity of other shoppers. We must also remember that asymptomatic persons are navigating places we subconsciously think are safe.
If you prefer to shop in a store, a COVID holiday shopping guide can help you navigate community retail spaces successfully. The more prepared you are for this holiday season’s shopping sprees, the less likely you are to expose yourself and your loved ones to the virus.
Of course, online shopping during COVID is the safest method. There’s no need to find a parking space, stand in long lines, or dodge other shoppers. Whatever shopping method you prefer, create a strategy that will help you enjoy the season despite the pandemic.
CDC - Public Health Guidance for Community-Related Exposure
Coronavirus and the Furniture Industry