Reopening your retail shop after COVID-19: tips and best practices

In this 4-minute read:

  • Safely reopening your retail store
  • Offer more online services
  • Issues to be aware of

Important PPP update for 2021

On December 22, 2020, Congress passed a bill renewing funding under the CARES Act, including an additional $284 billion earmarked for America’s struggling small businesses. The rules and application process for PPP loans and forgiveness have been modified, with more businesses eligible for PPP loans, more expenses forgivable, and a simplified application process. Also there is provision for “second draw” PPP loans for businesses that received PPP funding in 2020.


Slowly but surely, more states are starting to initiate their plans to reopen (or re-reopen) businesses after the coronavirus pandemic. In several states, retail shops are included in the first round of businesses allowed to reopen. 

Be sure to follow your state’s guidelines for reopening your store and pay attention to the requirements and timing that may be unique to your specific city. 

Throughout this article, we’ll provide some tips and suggestions for reopening safely and helping alleviate current and potential customers’ concerns. 

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How can you safely reopen your retail business after COVID-19?

The COVID-19 pandemic is far from over, and nobody knows exactly when it will completely stop being a serious threat, but as cases start to decline and the economy continues to struggle, government officials are enacting plans to reopen businesses, including your retail store. 

Because we are still in the midst of a pandemic, it is important to take every precaution to limit the spread of the coronavirus so we don’t see a second wave of COVID-19 cases or have to go through another round of shutdowns. 

Take it slow and maintain best practices from your local health authorities

Start slowly. As you reopen your retail shop, take baby steps. You might start by limiting the hours you are open and/or only allowing a certain amount of people in your store at a time (in some regions this may be a requirement). 

Other best practices for ensuring customer and employee health and safety:

  • Encourage customers and employees to wear masks in the building (in some locations, this may be required in any case)
  • Encourage cashless transactions and contactless transactions (like online ordering) when possible (many retailers and restaurants have ceased using cash altogether during COVID-19, but that trend is unlikely to be perpetuated for long)
  • Keep hand sanitizer readily available
  • Wipe down surfaces with anti-bacterial/anti-viral cleaners regularly (shelves, counters, door handles, windows, bathrooms, products, etc.)
  • Place markers on the floor where lines gather (at the checkout) to help encourage social distancing
  • Rearrange your store to accommodate social distancing if possible (wider aisles can help, and some retailers have started mandating “one-way” travel in each aisle to encourage people to stay further away from each other)
  • Try to discourage customers from touching items they don’t intend to purchase (or rather, encourage them to only touch items they intend to purchase)
  • Don’t allow employees to come to work if they are sick or show any signs of coughing, fever, chills, etc.
  • Consider taking employees’ temperatures as they arrive at work

hand sanitizer station for retail store during COVID-19

Keep your customers informed

We are all feeling the impacts and concerns of this pandemic, and those feelings are not likely to fade quickly. Keep your customers informed of the precautions you are taking to ensure their health and safety as you reopen your store and invite them back in. 

This can help put their minds at ease and help them feel less nervous about venturing out in public for the first time in several months. 

Post what you are doing on your website and social media channels. Send out a newsletter with your email marketing software to keep your customers up to date on changes as you reopen your store. 

Continue to offer online services and curbside access

COVID-19 is really a driving force behind businesses moving their products and services online. Restaurants aren’t the only businesses that can offer delivery and curbside pickup. Many retailers (if allowed to stay open at all) have added curbside pickup, special package deals, and delivery options that they didn’t offer before.

Where possible, continue to offer online services for your retail store. Allow customers to shop online and pick up their items in your parking lot. It’s likely that many customers will continue to do their shopping online even as businesses start to reopen. So make sure you are capturing every opportunity to get more business. 

If your retail shop doesn’t have an online store yet, check out this article to get started: How to get your business started selling online during COVID-19 / coronavirus.

What issues should retail business owners prepare for as they reopen?

One of the largest issues we foresee as businesses start opening across the country at the same time is in the supply chain world. It may be difficult to acquire the supplies you need, particularly health and sanitization materials, as most businesses across the country are all putting in large orders for the same things. 

This goes for your usual retail inventory as well. We encourage you to prepare for the increased demand by getting what you can now but also to be patient as you may experience delays in your inventory orders. 

As you do experience shortages of certain items, keep your customers informed via email and your website in order to provide transparent communication and better service to them. You may even consider putting a limit on specific items that are more difficult to come by in the coming months. 

Need more customers and better review management? Let Womply help!

Womply can help you get more customers through online reviews and reputation management. As you start getting new in-store customers again, be sure to remind them that you appreciate them leaving online feedback for your store to help more customers see how great you are. Learn more, plus get free reputation monitoring and customer insights when you sign up for Womply Free!


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