Is 'clothing quarantine' the solution to B.C.'s fitting room problem?
VANCOUVER -- As clothing stores that closed voluntarily start to open their doors to customers, they have a problem other retailers don’t: what to do with items that have been tried on, but not purchased. If a customer comes to the store without knowing they’re infected, the items they tried on could be contaminated with COVID-19.
The Latest Scoop, a clothing store on West 4th Avenue in Kitsilano, has found a solution: clothing quarantine. Customers are asked to leave items they don’t want in the fitting room.
"Then we have a staff member wearing personal protective equipment take those items and bin them into a clean and sanitized bin. The bin is sealed and labelled and put into what we’re calling our 'quarantine area,' and we are quarantining those items for 24 hours,” said Jada Campbell, The Latest Scoop’s director of retail.
The store is now allowing one customer at a time for in-person shopping. Campbell says shoppers appreciate that the clothes they’re trying on haven’t been tried on by anyone else that day.
"They know everything that’s out on the floor is safe and hasn’t been touched and is ready to try on for them," she says.
She expects the clothing quarantine will continue for weeks, if not months, but it won’t be easy to manage.
"Customers come in here and they’ll try on 20 items so that could deplete our stock really, really quickly, and then it's not available for the next customer," said Campbell.
"The back-of-store space is sometimes very cramped, so finding the space is going to be complex," said Greg Wilson with the Retail Council of Canada. But he expects all stores will adopt clothing quarantine. "You’ll have bins or sections of shelves labelled with a particular date."
B.C. hasn’t given clothing stores any direction on how long to quarantine clothes.
"Saskatchewan’s (clothing) quarantine period is 72 hours, but I think 24 is a standard requirement," said Wilson. It’s believed the virus cannot not live on fabric for longer than 24 hours.
Campbell would like some guidance from the province on the clothing quarantine, fitting room distancing and the number of people allowed in stores at one time before she opens her doors to multiple shoppers.
"I think the hesitation is just to make sure we have our own protocols in place and we’re comfortable, because it’s new for us. We are not sure yet about the demand and how we can feasibly restock our store or process the customers," she said.
For now, anyone who shops at The Latest Scoop gets the store to themselves.
"Until we know confidently that we are out of the woods, we will just keep it private for now," said Campbell.