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Nordstrom preps to reopen stores — with lots of changes

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Fewer fitting rooms, no beauty makeovers, plexiglass dividers at checkouts and a limited number of customers allowed in a store.

Those are some of the changes that Nordstrom is making to its stores as it prepares to reopen its doors in a “phased approach.” The department store company is also planning to permanently close 16 of its full-line stores (about 14% of its total store base) and is restructuring regions, support roles and its corporate organization to “increase speed and flexibility” which will save $150 million annually. (Nordstrom did not release a store closure list.)

“Our stores won't open all at once,” Erik Nordstrom, CEO, and Peter Nordstrom, president, said in a blog on the company’s website. We're going to take a phased approach. “It really can't be said enough – your health, and the health of our employees, is our priority. And every decision we make is through that lens. We want to be sure the approach we're taking to reopen our stores is thoughtful, and that we're creating a store environment that's safe for everyone.”

As part of the new environment, Nordstrom customers can expect more space at entrances and in the aisles to provide for social distancing, limited group seating areas and new protocols in high-touch shopping areas such as beauty, sunglasses, hair goods, jewelry, shoes. Some services may be temporarily unavailable, including alterations, beauty makeovers, skincare and specialized offerings such as browse, prosthesis and bra-fittings, dine-in services at restaurants, ATMs and water fountains. Ebars (coffee bars) will be open, but restaurants will be on a case-by-case basis.  

“As our stores reopen we will evolve the way we offer personalized service,” the company said. 

 In addition, Nordstrom is temporarily limiting the number of people allowed inside its stores at one time, and some locations may have revised hours or temporarily closed entrances.  Designated employees, or “store ambassadors,” will be positioned at store entrances to answer questions, make sure customers maintain enough distance from each other and manage the number of customers entering the store. They will also give masks to customers who need them. 

Here are some other changes in store for Nordstrom customers.
• Some fitting rooms will be closed in order to maintain social distance and rooms will be cleaned between each use.

• Returns will be made only at specific locations in the store. Merchandise that’s been tried on or returned will be put on hold for a period of time before it goes back on the sales floor. 

• Plexiglass partitions will be installed at checkout areas, with the area sanitized after every customer interaction. 

• In-store styling services will be provided through contactless consultations, including style and fit expertise. Virtual styling appointments will also be offered. 

The retailer said it is also increasing store cleaning and sanitization — paying extra attention to high-traffic touchpoints like checkout counters and shopping carts — multiple times a day.  It is making hand sanitizer and cleaning wipes more easily accessible for customers and employees.

Along with training employees about environmental cleaning and sanitation, hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette, Nordstrom said it conducting employee health screening, including temperature checks before every shift. 

Nordstrom is also working toward having payments be contactless — cards only. 

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