How to safely shop for clothes?

After months of lock down and stores and restaurants reopening, it can be really a challenge to go back in stores and buy stuff. We have to get groceries and other important stuff but how about clothing? How to go back in stores and try clothes? I know some people not buying clothes at all. But for some it can be hard to put a full stop on clothing shopping formonths. So how do we do it safely? Lets look a it.

According to a recent survey by First Insight, only 33 percent of U.S. customers feel safe shopping at a mall. And even more than that, 65 percent of women and 54 percent of men say they wouldn’t be comfortable using a dressing room. But while many remain hesitant, some people have braved shopping at stores post-COVID-19. USA Today shopping editor, Courtney Campbell says “I was initially a little nervous about the idea of shopping for clothes in stores again, but protocols like masks, a limited number of people, and the fact that the stores were disinfecting the items that people were trying on eased my concerns,” she says.

Another survey by MysizeID found that the majority of millennials would prefer contactless payment options and purchases made via mobile devices. Gen Z would like the ability to book a private fitting room, while the majority of baby boomers want retailers to hold returned merchandise for 48 hours before it goes back on the shelves. In other words, consumers have concerns.

Is it possible to catch the coronavirus from clothes?

According to William Lang, director at the concierge medicine practice WorldClinic, fabrics do not harbor the virus for very long. However, since we are still learning new things about the coronavirus every day, it is difficult to measure the risk factor associated with trying on garments. “The data is still not completely clear on this,” Lang said.

The greater risk of contracting the virus in a store is if a fellow shopper coughs, sneezes or even talks. If their droplets reach you, whether through the air or on a surface, you could become infected.

Articles of clothing, according to public health specialist Carol Winner, can hold respiratory droplets, as we use them every single day. These particles can dry out over time and inactivate the virus. But this doesn’t mean that it will happen quickly, and she said scientists are still learning more and more about this virus each day.

Even though stores are reopening across the country, shopping post-coronavirus will look a lot different than it used to. Retailers like Target, Nordstorm and Kohl’s  are putting new measures in place to help prevent the spread of the virus. Many are operating at reduced capacity, limiting the number of people who can be in the store at one time to ensure social distancing. Others are also closing dressing rooms, having more staff members on hand to regularly sanitize carts and baskets, and enacting more thorough sanitizing processes for returned or tried-on clothing.

Among the retailers who have revamped their shopping processes are American Eagle and Aerie. “We’ve removed some of the fixtures in our stores to account for social distancing, and we’re requiring that all guests and employees wear masks,” Hannah Grice, a sales associate at Aerie in Baltimore, Md., explains. “We’ve also put into place strict guidelines around maximum store capacities and we’re cleaning constantly (including registers and fitting rooms in between each guest) so that every individual can have the best shopping experience possible as we all adjust to our new normal.”

Many stores have closed dressing rooms but some, like Aerie, have not and customers are still able to try on clothes while shopping. But is it a smart idea? Proceed at your own risk, experts say. There haven’t been enough studies done to determine how long coronavirus lives on fabric but if someone with the virus has touched the clothing and then you touch your eyes or face, there’s a chance you could get sick. To reduce your risk, sanitize your hands before and after trying on the clothes or wear disposable gloves if you’re worried. Avoid trying on anything that goes near your face, too, like scarves or sunglasses.

While many stores are providing hand sanitizing stations and wipes, it’s always best to come prepared with your own just in case. The CDC recommends using a hand sanitizer that’s at least 60 percent alcohol before you enter the store and then again after you leave. Because hand sanitizer is still such a hot commodity.

Per the CDC’s recommendations—and many stores’ requirements—you should always wear a cloth face mask while you’re out shopping in public to prevent the spread of COVID-19. While there are plenty of retailers selling face masks online right now, our apparel expert at Reviewed tested out some of the most popular ones and ranked the best cloth face masks you can buy based on factors like comfort and quality.

Another smart thing to carry with you when shopping is a pack of sanitizing wipes (here’s where to find cleaning wipes still in stock). The CDC suggests wiping down “high-touch” areas like dressing room door knobs, drawer pulls, screens, etc. before touching them. Many retailers have team members sanitizing all of those areas on a regular basis but you can also bring your own for extra precautions.

Do you need to sanitize your new clothes?

According to experts and the CDC, you don’t need to be too concerned about bringing coronavirus into your home via your new purchases, especially with retailers engaging in stricter sanitation procedures. “Based on recommendations from the CDC, you don’t need to sanitize clothing to be safe,” our senior lab testing technician (and resident germ guru) Jonathan Chan, says. However, he adds, “If you’re worried, leave clothes out for three days, then wash them like you normally would to remove excess and sizing chemicals.” (Coronavirus only lives on surfaces for up to 72 hours, scientists have found.) 

What if you’re not ready to shop in store again?

If you are not then don’t. Most of the brands are online and we might get used to of online clothing shopping for a while. Better safe than sorry.


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