Nordstrom Reopening: A Glimpse Of In-Store Shopping In 2020


Nordstrom, one of our very favorite retailers, (hello, free shipping & returns!) is among the many department stores that began reopening this month. While Philadelphia stores, and most others in high-density areas and states still honoring stay at home orders, remain closed, the reopenings in other areas provide us a glimpse of what coronavirus-era clothing shopping has in-store (hehe, see what I did there?) for us.

Nordstrom, in addition to Macy’s and Saks Fifth Avenue, has issued a press release indicating the changes we’ll encounter once we do venture out to shop. Expect cleanliness to reign supreme, and a sanitized, less personal experience than we’re used to. Nordstrom appears to be taking customer safety up a notch in comparison to its competitors, but there’s likely to be some variance.

Nordstrom believes it’s important for shoppers to know what to expect, as well as for us to feel safe. Keep in mind that the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale is more than 2 months away in August, and we don’t know the extent to which things will change by then — but it’s likely that as long as the virus is with us, and we’re learning to live with it, this is how shopping will look.

Shopping In-Store At Nordstrom During The Pandemic

Upon entry — cool air, polished floors, store ambassadors wearing gloves and smizing through face masks — expect to see a bevy of hand sanitizers. If you don’t have your own face mask, ambassadors will offer you one (Nordstrom is providing them for their own employees — bravo). They’ll also answer questions, ensure we maintain appropriate distance, and manage the number of customers inside. Adjusted layouts and wider aisles for physical distancing are on the order, as well as new protocols in high-touch areas such as beauty, jewelry, sunglasses and shoes.

In addition to limiting the number of customers at one time, store hours will be altered, and entrances/exits may be temporarily adjusted.

Fewer dressing rooms will be open, to facilitate physical distancing, and they’ll be cleaned in-between customers. Nordstrom will manage the number of items allowed inside, and clothing will be quarantined after try-ons — for 72 hours at Nordstrom, 48 hours at Saks, 24 hours at Macy’s — before being returned to the sales floor.

How Will Nordstrom Keep Stores Clean?

In addition to the changes to our physical experience, here’s a list of changes regarding cleanliness and sanitation in the store:

  • Stores will be cleaned and sanitized frequently, with extra attention to high-touch areas (shopping carts, checkout counters).
  • Nordstrom will make hand sanitizer and cleaning wipes available throughout the store for employees and customers.
  • We’ll see “healthy habits” posters throughout the store.
  • Checkout counters will feature plexiglass partitions and be cleaned after every customer interaction.
  • Contactless payments in marked, physically distanced areas will be in place, and expect to eventually pay by app (like Apple Pay or a brand app).
  • Buy online, pick-up in-store will be paired with drive-thru order pickup, and there will be dedicated parking spaces for returns.

Will Beauty, Styling & Other High-Touch, Close-Contact Experiences Be Safe?

For now, many close-contact experiences we’re used to having at Nordstrom and other department stores are out-of-reach or will become virtual. It’s clear that activities like trying on lip color are out, while virtual try-ons similar to those at Sephora and Ulta may become standard. For now, beauty makeovers, skincare, and bra and breast prosthesis fittings are unavailable. In-store styling consultations will be contactless, and Nordstrom will also offer virtual styling and digital style boards.

All this info, detailed in the Nordstrom press release and this NY Times article, gives us a glimpse into what we know about shopping at Nordstrom once stores open, during the pandemic. For a more fun version, you can watch the video. What Macy’s is doing, is here.

If you’ve already dipped your toes in — either at Nordstrom or another department store, let us know what it’s like. Also, if you have questions about the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale that aren’t answered on our Anni Sale Page, let us know, and we’ll get whatever answers we can.


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Lex is our resident nerd, watchful editor & Chief Innovation Officer. Voted most likely to win BIG on Jeopardy!, she keeps us ahead of the curve, whether in mapping out strategy that has us dropping content at the moment you’re Googling for it, or branching us out into new channels/ media & letting us know what trends are giving. If you sit in on any meeting, you’ll often hear the phrase, “Ok, so Lex was right…” With her own personal style (boots, dresses, scarves), she doesn’t consider herself a fashionista, but she is keeping us #well #sustainable #empathetic #inclusive #current #DownToEarth & #OpenMinded; her wisdom ranges from yoga home practice & Feng Shui-ing an apartment, to living overseas & crushing analytics.

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  1. I went to Nordstrom at Northpark in Dallas yesterday. It was very clear that they are making every effort to sanitize and distance. It made me feel ok to be there for sure! My main purpose was the second fitting of my wedding dress, which was wonderful that they made it possible! I hoped to shop a little after the appointment but quickly realized that inventory is so low it would be better to just shop online. Great customer service as always!

  2. I went to my local Macy’s, and other than social distancing dots in line, plexiglass at the registers and sales associates in masks, it was business as usual (they also had hand sanitizer stations by the escalators and the associate wiped down the counter before I put my stuff down) Which may or may not be good, depending on how your Macy’s is. When we went into a fitting room, there was clothing left there by a past customer. I am a retail employee at another retailer, and am always surprised that people don’t want to do the bare minimum: there is literally a rack outside the fitting room to put the stuff you don’t want. I took the stuff and put it there, then sanitized my hands. I have no idea if the clothes will be segregated. There were also jeans with unlocked cables, so I bought that to the register bay so hopefully they wouldn’t get stolen. I am not as concerned about Corona on clothes, though, YMMV.

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