By William Mashburn
We all have to shop, that’s a fact of life. Everything you need for day to day life comes from a store one way or another. However, shopping can be difficult when it comes to retail, especially during a pandemic. There are many things you as a shopper need to watch out for and keep in mind while at any retail store. This ranges from third party items to limitations, all the way down to store hours. Changes can happen overnight and these changes may or may not be a positive thing for everyone. Let’s take a look at some things you should keep in mind.
1.) Safety First
This shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone. Shopping at any store you need to take all precaution measures to ensure your safety and the safety of the people around you. Even if you believe you are untouchable you most likely are not. A good way to keep yourself safe is to follow the rules set by the store you’re shopping in. For example, Walmart currently requires all customers to enter through one side of the building. This is a safety measure implemented because of COVID-19. If you’re unsure of all safety rules and guidelines please contact the store before visiting.
Having patience is critical while shopping or returning items. If there are a lot of people also shopping at the same time as you, it should not be a surprise that the times it takes to checkout, get through an aisle, or move around is longer than normal. A tip to help reduce all of this extra time is to simply change the time you shop. Most retail stores are open at 7 a.m., some even earlier for the elderly. Statistics show that customer traffic is significantly lower in the mornings than in the afternoons. If work or family obligations get in the way of you coming early you can also pick a different day to shop. Weekends are not ideal because that’s when most others have days off and rush to the store. Try coming Monday through Thursday, you’d be surprised.
3.) Third-Party Returns
How many times have you purchased an item that was either broken, not what you needed, the wrong thing or something was just wrong with it. If this is the case you most likely will bring it back to the store and try to return it. While the process sounds simple it surely isn’t. There are a lot of things to consider when returning an item. For example, third-party returns have different policies than that of the store or website you bought it off of. If you bought an item that was a third-party, or marketplace, you might have to contact someone else to get your money back. As a retail worker who handles customer service let me provide an example. Say you buy a pool off of my store’s website, you get it home and put it up to find a huge hole in the middle of it. You bring it back to the store and we end up telling you it’s the marketplace and that pools.inc sold it to you. All this means is that the company partnered with ours, and sells their things on our site. So when you buy it off our site, you’re really buying it from them and not us.
If you have been in any retail store that sells food you might have noticed that there are limits to some products. Recently meat has been limited to one or two packs per species. For example, you can buy two packs of chicken, beef, pork, and fish, but not four packs of just one of those species. This is because COVID has impacted the meat industry hard, like most other places. Other limitations include toilet paper, paper goods and even cleaning supplies. It is always a good idea to call the store and ask what the limits on products are before wasting time getting more than what they will allow.
Back to the returns for a second. With COVID still a very serious thing, some states and countries may not allow retailers to take back some items. For example, in Illinois, Walmart is not allowed to take back food, apparel, paper goods, home cleaning supplies, infant goods, health and beauty supplies and pharmacy items. Please call ahead about any restrictions before bringing up your items. There is nothing worse than coming into the store after driving an hour, waiting in line for what feels like another hour, just for the associate to tell you that you can not return those items. Be polite and just accept that those items are only temporary non-refundable and that when those restrictions are lifted you can bring them back. Workers understand the frustration we all feel when you have just bought something, haven’t even put it on, and still can not return it. It is also never the specific store that makes these rules, it is corporate or state/local laws.
These are just five tips to keep in mind while shopping retail. I could make a book on so many other things but for me, as a retail worker, those are the most important. Us retail workers do not have any control over the world, or what happens in our stores. We do appreciate everyone who understands these rules and hope you continue to visit us wherever that is.