COVID-19

Brick-and-mortar retail has a COVID-19 cleaning problem

Kristin Schwab Mar 12, 2020
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How is Sephora handling people sharing makeup samples in store during the COVID-19 pandemic? Thomas Lohnes/Getty Images for SephoraXKaufhof
COVID-19

Brick-and-mortar retail has a COVID-19 cleaning problem

Kristin Schwab Mar 12, 2020
How is Sephora handling people sharing makeup samples in store during the COVID-19 pandemic? Thomas Lohnes/Getty Images for SephoraXKaufhof
HTML EMBED:
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As COVID-19 ramps up across the country, brick-and-mortar retailers are stuck between a bit of a rock and a hard place. They want customers to be safe but they also need them to shop. So what are they doing to get customers in stores?

That whole don’t touch your face thing? Shoppers at a Sephora in Manhattan are not having it. They’re dipping their fingers into eyeshadow and blush. Mariana Saddakni, for example, was testing foundation.

“Makeup goes to your face, you’re not supposed to touch your face, people are touching makeup and now I’m touching my face,” Saddakni said. “So now I’m feeling very guilty that I’m doing a bad thing, even though I washed my hands before.”

Throughout the store, employees are cleaning. One worker wiping down a makeup display told me to test products on my hands. Another gave me hand sanitizer on my way out.

And Sephora isn’t the only one stepping up cleaning. Target says it’s cleaning checkout lanes every 30 minutes. Starbucks has banned travel mugs. SoulCycle is waiving last minute cancellation fees.

Barbara Kahn, professor of marketing at The Wharton School, said all that matters.

“First of all, it does literally matter,” she said. “And second of all, it shows that they understand what the issues are.”

Kahn said in-person shopping is increasingly about building loyalty through experience. And experience includes feeling safe. Kahn said that sends a message that will outlast the virus itself.

COVID-19 Economy FAQs

It’s still the question on everyone’s minds: What’s going on with extra COVID-19 unemployment benefits?

The $600-a-week payments have ended, officially, as of July 31. For now, there is no additional federal pandemic unemployment assistance. House Democrats want to renew the $600 payments. Senate Republicans have proposed giving the unemployed 70% of their most recent salary by this October, when state unemployment offices have had time to reconfigure their computer systems to do those calculations. Until then, jobless workers would just get another $200. But, nothing has been agreed upon yet.

What’s the latest on evictions?

For millions of Americans, things are looking grim. Unemployment is high, and pandemic eviction moratoriums have expired in states across the country. And as many people already know, eviction is something that can haunt a person’s life for years. For instance, getting evicted can make it hard to rent again. And that can lead to spiraling poverty.

Which retailers are requiring that people wear masks when shopping? And how are they enforcing those rules?

Walmart, Target, Lowe’s, CVS, Home Depot, Costco — they all have policies that say shoppers are required to wear a mask. When an employee confronts a customer who refuses, the interaction can spin out of control, so many of these retailers are telling their workers to not enforce these mandates. But, just having them will actually get more people to wear masks.

You can find answers to more questions on unemployment benefits and COVID-19 here.

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