Retailers are reopening stores but not fitting rooms, which ensures safety but risks devaluing physical stores.

WHAT HAPPENED: Retailers like Kohl’s and Target are opening stores but keeping fitting rooms closed. Others, like Nordstrom and Saks, will allow customers to try on items but will clean and separate them for 24-hours before returning them to the sales floor.

WHY IT MATTERS

Instead of closing fitting rooms entirely, companies with ecommerce sites should adapt to how they process their online returns to the store environment. Given the sheer volume of online returns—up to 40% of online orders are returned versus 10% of in-store purchases—retailers should be able to handle products that customers handle in-store. Foot traffic will likely remain low after stores reopen and many retailers will restrict the number of shoppers allowed to enter. In the short-term, companies can limit the number of items each customer tries on and assign more employees to monitor the fitting-room process. In the long term, companies should restructure stores to allow for more distance between associates and customers and implement a cleaning system that accounts for both items that pass through their fitting-rooms and those returned from online orders. Prioritizing safety for both customers and employees will be key for all retailers adapting to a changing industry, regardless of whether they are a Kohl’s or a Saks.