US retail associations release blueprint for safe shopping post-pandemic

US-based retail trade associations Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) and the National Retail Federation (NRF) released a Blueprint for Shopping Safe, a three-phase approach to re-opening US-based retail.

The first phase includes allowing e-commerce, contactless curbside pick-up and in-home delivery. Both associations say that a fully functioning supply chain with all distribution centers operational is crucial for retailers to meet customer demand.

During this phase, all states and jurisdictions should allow the consistent and complete re-opening of the nation’s distribution centers and warehouses, so long as retailers follow established social distancing, hygiene, and sanitization measures.

Phase two includes re-opening stores to the public, with social distancing protocols and reduced occupancy. In order to determine when to move into this phase, retailers urge state governments to rely on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC(, state health departments’ and other health experts’ advice.

In phase three, retailers will establish protection and then lift all restrictions. Retailers will have discretion to remove COVID-related operational protocols, except for those related to enhanced sanitization and screening practices. The retail health and safety protocols are designed to maintain sanitization while returning operations to a new normal, NRF and RILA say.

Consistent with health expert guidance, the associations urge governors to suspend or relax all social distancing requirements during this phase.

The guidelines were developed in accordance with the CDC standards and and benchmarking by leading retailers.

RILA president Brian Dodge said: “As conversations turn to the reopening of the economy, retailers are uniquely situated to provide input, because we’ve been on both sides of the stay at home orders. Groceries, pharmacies and other retailers that have remained open have implemented practices and protocols that are keeping employees and communities safe. The Blueprint released today builds off those successful operating practices. ”