By Samuetta Drew
Some may feel that in-person holiday shopping during a pandemic with spiking numbers around the country is unimaginable, yet many shoppers continue to visit retail stores especially on Black Friday. So yes, the coronavirus COVID-19 numbers may be spiking, but this has not deterred some.
This past weekend mall parking lots were not equal to numbers in years past, but they were far from empty. Many shoppers decided to take the risk and take advantage of the many holiday bargains retail stores offered.
The behaviors of Americans during this pandemic shows they continue to desire some form of normalcy during the most celebrated holidays of the year. This means they will continue to host, gather and/or shop. Where this may be true, most are altering the way it is done by practicing some COVID-19 safety measures.
Past Keeping an Eye on Safety articles have addressed COVID-19 safety measures for hosting, gathering and traveling. Now let us review the best safety measures for holiday shopping based on recommendations by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), along with other Department of Health agencies around the country.
If you are planning a holiday shopping trip, be sure to look at the amount of COVID-19 activity in your community. Consider delaying your holiday shopping during times in which transmission is at high risk in your community. Stay home if you have tested positive or are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms such as fever, chills, shortness of breath, or other symptoms.
The safest alternative to consider is to purchase gifts other than in-person shopping at retail stores, where possible. Online shopping poses the lowest risk factor. Many retailers have options for online shopping and in-person, contact-less curbside, or drive-up pick-up. If using in-person contactless pick-up, you and the retail personnel should wear masks.
The way to help minimize your risk, if you choose to shop in-person, is to wear your mask and maintain six feet distance between you and others. Try to shop at off peak times when there are fewer shoppers. Many retailers disinfect their carts or offer sanitizing wipes to wipe down your cart. Avoid touching your eyes, mouth, or nose with unwashed hands. Prepare a list to help avoid handling items you do not plan to purchase. Use touch-less payment if possible or sanitize your hands after purchasing with cash or credit/debit keypad. Bring hand sanitizer and hand wipes with you. Be sure to sanitize upon entrance and exit from stores and wash your hands for 20 seconds once you return home. Keep a well-stocked “sanitizing kit’ in your vehicle that includes hand sanitizer, wipes, disinfectant spray, mask, and paper towels.
The in-person shopping activity which poses the highest risk exposure is participating in sale promotions or activities that encourage large crowds and lining up for limited supply deals, which makes social distancing a challenge. Try to avoid these as much as possible.
Where practicing holiday traditions and purchasing gifts for love ones is important, you must Keep an Eye on Safety while participating in these types of activities by considering those with the lowest risk exposures.