The recent spike in national COVID-19 cases appears to be reversing the trend towards retail recovery. But many retailers are still working hard to keep their stores open, despite the grim environment.
The U.S. hit a pandemic record on Monday, with over 1 million cases, the Wall Street Journal reported. In New York City, cases are rising sharply as well across all boroughs, with 18 neighborhoods recording a 7-day positivity rate of 40% or higher in the last week of December.
At the onset of the pandemic, major retailers shuttered their stores for months. This time around, retailers are better equipped to handle the challenges of keeping a store open while cases surge. Plus, vaccine and mask mandates have helped alleviate some of the fears of keeping a store open during a pandemic.
Apple temporarily closed all of its New York City stores for in-person shopping last week but is now allowing customers to come in on a limited basis, after facing backlash.
In December, Walmart temporarily closed almost 60 store locations out of its more than 5,000 Walmart stores and Sam’s Clubs in the U.S., a company spokesperson confirmed to FN. These closures were meant to be a “proactive measure intended to present a safe and clean in-store environment for our associates and customers,” the spokesperson said, adding that Walmart has taken similar measures since the start of the pandemic in 2020.
“We have a team at the Home Office that regularly evaluates criteria related to stores and the communities we serve,” the spokesperson said. “When that data reaches certain thresholds, we make the decision to get ahead of the situation and proactively close the store for cleaning and sanitizing.”
Macy’s is temporarily shortening its store hours for the month of January at all stores, a spokesperson confirmed to FN. All Macy’s stores will be open Monday through Thursday, from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Some locations previously opened at 10 a.m. and closed at 9 p.m., Macy’s website shows. Store hours from Friday through Sunday will not change.
“The health and safety of our customers and colleagues remain our top priority,” the spokesperson said in a statement. “Our store colleagues will continue to work their normal allocated hours. We will continue to monitor the situation and follow the CDC and jurisdictional guidelines as well as keep enhanced safety and wellness procedures in place.”
FN reached out to other companies to hear about how they are keeping their stores safe and functional. None mentioned any plans for store closures at this time.
Here’s what they had to say:
Neiman Marcus Group
Neiman Marcus, which operates two Bergdorf Goodman stores in Manhattan, said it has no plans to close stores at this time.
“There is no higher priority than the safety and well-being of our customers, associates, and brand partners,” a Neiman Marcus spokesperson said. “We’ve taken several steps throughout the pandemic in support of our customers, associates, and brand partners, including increased safety and enhanced cleanliness measures in our stores, distribution centers, and offices. We have been actively monitoring updates from the CDC and other health experts to adjust our policies during the pandemic. While we don’t have plans to temporarily close stores at this time, we will continue to maintain our focus and will remain ready to react and adjust as needed in order to ensure the safety of our customers, associates, and brand partners.”
A Nordstrom representative said the company is implementing advanced safety and cleanliness measures throughout all store locations.
“The health and safety of our customers, employees, and communities is a responsibility we take very seriously,” a company spokesperson said. “We’re continuing to implement a number of enhanced safety and cleanliness measures throughout all of our store locations. Those who aren’t comfortable shopping with us in person can take advantage of our online and contactless curbside services.”
In addition to reducing store hours throughout January, Macy’s said it is offering corporate employees a hybrid model that allows people to work in the office as needed. The company has not announced an official return to office date. All corporate employees are required to be vaccinated or show a negative COVID-19 test before entering office locations.