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Sephora to start reopening stores — with lots of safety protocols

Sephora will reopen its stores in phases, starting with more than 70 locations on May 22. But the in-store environment — at least for the time being — will be different than what customers are used to. 

The first wave of reopenings by the beauty giant, which has 490-plus U.S. stores and 660 in-store shops at J.C. Penney,  will be across 10 states: Alaska, Arkansas, Arizona, Alabama, Colorado, Indiana, Kansas, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah and Georgia.  The reopened stores will implement “Sephora Health & Hygiene Guidelines,” which include 48 safety procedures and extensive employee training. 

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With a goal of creating “the safest Sephora experience possible,” the guidelines include the following:

• All stores will have restricted store capacities to allow for social distancing. Customers will be greeted by a line coordinator who will ensure adequate space, and six-foot markers will be placed at lines in front of registers and store entrances. Store aisles will be designated for traffic in one direction as locally mandated.

• Prior to reopening, all stores will receive a deep cleaning and will be equipped with hygiene supplies and hand sanitizer throughout the space. Stores will be constantly cleaning throughout the day.

• Testers will now be for display only and in-store services are suspended for now.  Customers can get assistance with product selection from in-store employees and Sephora’s suite of virtual tools.

• All employees will wear face masks and Sephora will provide disposable masks for shoppers to wear in-store. Face coverings will be mandated in some locations according to regional guidelines.

• All store employees’ temperatures will be taken at the beginning and in the middle of each shift.

• Sephora has extended its return policy and will accept returns with receipts for all purchases made just prior to and during the shutdown for 30 days after store opening. All returned products will be destroyed until further notice.

• Every very other register will be closed in to promote social distancing at the POS and encourage clients to use contactless payment options. All payment screens will be sanitized before and after every transaction, baskets and bags will be sanitized, and plexiglass screens will be put up in all stores.

• Each store has designated a hygiene leader who will ensure that the new Health & Hygiene Guidelines are being followed. 

Additionally, Sephora will give a 10% discount on in-store purchases to health-care workers or emergency workers with current ID through 2020. Sephora noted it has donated more than 350,000 beauty products to health-care workers and domestic violence survivors through its Project Care Package initiative. And in June, the retailer will sell washable cloth face masks for $10, with 50% of proceeds going to the Stronger Together Fund.

“While the retail environment will feel different and many factors will remain out of our hands, we’ve learned to embrace what we can control,” said Jean-André Rougeot, president and CEO of Sephora Americas. “As we gradually reopen our stores over the next few months, we have taken great care in how we welcome back our employees and our clients. We are grateful for our clients’ support the past two months, and we want to safeguard the experience for those who want to return to stores. We will follow guidance from the CDC, government and health authorities in tandem with extensive supplemental safety measures, to formalize our new Sephora Health & Hygiene Guidelines that safeguard the in-store shopping experience.”

Sephora, which laid off part-time and seasonal employees after its stores shuttered, said it will continue to pay store employees and provide their benefits until the stores they are assigned to reopen.

“Our people have championed our business, showed immense support for each other and our clients, and most importantly displayed true strength during these last nine weeks,” Rougeot said. “Although many things in retail have changed, some things remain the same--our passion for the joy of beauty, our desire to welcome all, and our focus on the client.”

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