REI Is Reopening Its Stores — Here’s a Look at the Outdoor Giant’s Plan

After two months of being closed due to the coronavirus crisis, outdoor retailer REI announced this morning that it will start reopening its brick-and-mortar locations.

Today, REI Co-op president and CEO Eric Artz shared a letter with consumers via email outlining its reopening plans for this week, which coincides with the retailer’s 82nd anniversary. According to Artz, the reopening in some instances will consist of curbside service for online orders, which the company expects to have going for more than half of its stores by week’s end. Others will be open and allowing a limited number of customers inside with an abbreviated schedule that will vary by location.

Artz stated the “hope and expectation” is to have more than half of the stores open for curbside pick-up for its anniversary sale, which begins May 15, and have some open for in-store services. The stores, according to REI, will have enhanced COVID-19 cleaning procedures that includes frequent cleanings of high-touch surface areas.

The executive also stated REI will take additional health and safety precautions for employees and customers.

For employees, this includes requiring them to wear face coverings in the stores and distribution centers, and gloves for some who are performing specific tasks (however, they will be available to all staff and customers). Also, REI stated employees will be required to check for coronavirus symptoms outlined by the CDC before each shift and to stay home if they feel unwell and will distribute temperature check devices to all stores for a daily temperature check upon arrival (Employees with a fever of 100.4 or higher will be required to go home, REI stated.)

For customers, REI is asking store visitors to wear face coverings and will provide disposable masks to shoppers without one. The masks, however, are a request and not a requirement except in the areas where local mandates require them. Also, REI stated aside from limiting the number of people in store that it will adhere to other social distancing procedures such as a six-foot distance at store entrances, cash registers and shop counters, (with store managers having the power to stop operations if the distance between people is not possible), plexiglass shields at registers and making fitting rooms and drinking fountains unavailable.

Aside from the reopening, Artz stated in the letter that REI will offer virtual events and gatherings for members in the coming weeks as well as zero-contact bicycle maintenance in store, virtual fitting and a revamped return process.

On March 15, with the coronavirus crisis escalating, Artz revealed in a statement that its 162 locations would close starting the following day. The executive also said REI store employees would be paid during this time of temporary closure.

The next month, with the retailer uncertain of when brick-and-mortar operations will be up and running again, Artz stated REI was forced to enact an unpaid 90-day furlough of the majority of its retail and field employees that would begin on April 15 and the company would make reductions to its headquarters workforce, with impacted full-time employees receiving severance pay and outplacement services and support.

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