Washington retailers partner with shoppers to defeat the spread of the virus

Nov 17, 2020
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Written by Renée Sunde, President & CEO
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OLYMPIA, WA – November 17, 2020 – The Washington Retail Association responds to new guidance from Governor Jay Inslee to help reduce the state’s increasing COVID-19 infection rates.

On Sunday, Governor Inslee announced month-long partial business shutdowns. They include the closure of gyms, bowling centers and movie theaters, as well as a ban on indoor seating in restaurants.

These new restrictions also reduce retail shopping capacity in stores from 30% to 25% in the heart of the holiday season when some retailers see up to 40% of their annual sales.

From the very beginning of the pandemic last March, retail employees have been on the front lines of serving our communities. Those in the “essential businesses” that stayed open have worked to ensure that Washingtonians have the food and other goods that we all need. Others, who work in “non-essential” retail businesses, struggled financially until those businesses were allowed to reopen in early June.

“If 2020 has proven one thing it’s that retailers are adaptable and resilient. Our industry has continued to innovate like never before to face this great public health challenge,” said Renée Sunde, President and Chief Executive of the Washington Retail Association. “We want to serve our customers safely and be part of the solution. Nothing is more important than the safety of our customers and employees.”

In addition to standard protocols required by the CDC, retailers have adopted additional safety measures, including contactless payment methods, extended hours, and appointment-only shopping options. Solutions that merge both physical and digital shopping methods have led to the growth of curbside delivery, buy on-line/pick-up at store, and a variety of personal shipping services. Washington Retail has also participated in public campaigns to encourage customers to wear masks in stores and other public settings.

“We’ve maintained an open dialogue with the Governor’s office to strategize on solutions that would ensure the safety of both customers and employees,” Sunde said. “Some of those recommendations were included in the new guidance while recommendations for raising in-store capacity were not.

Washington Retail is concerned about the impact of the widespread shutdowns of businesses, including the restaurant industry. “Retailers and restaurants depend on healthy businesses to help each other,” Sunde said. “The closure of indoor dining and other services will no doubt impact us all.”

Despite the many challenges, retailers have proven to go above and beyond requirements to prioritize the needs of customers, Sunde said.

“As with all Washington residents, our retailers will keep working hard to negotiate the delicate balance of safely serving customer demands while remaining committed to reducing infections and returning us to a way of life we all miss,” she said.

Established in 1987, Olympia-based Washington Retail is the primary advocacy group for retailers of all shapes and sizes across the State of Washington. It represents more than 4,000 storefronts across the state.

Contact: Renée Sunde, President & CEO

rsunde@washingtonretail.org