Is it okay for retailers to ease up on cleaning their stores?
Retailers have worked hard to institute cleaning procedures to make shoppers feel safe shopping in stores during the pandemic. Many, if not most, Americans would probably agree that they’ve never seen the stores they shop in more thoroughly clean and sanitized than they have been in recent months.
So, what should stores do considering that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has stated that there is little likelihood of COVID-19 being spread through contact surfaces, particularly when no infected people are present for extended periods of time?
Emanuel Goldman, a microbiology professor at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, said contact cleaning “has been done to excess” in an interview with The Washington Post. “What they really should be doing is focusing on the main routes of transmission of this disease, which is breathing.”
Retailers do have to consider the mindset of shoppers, many of whom, as a Rochester Democrat & Chronicle article points out are continuing to try to disinfect their way to safety, including going so far as to wipe down food and packages from grocery stores. A Deloitte report published in June found that 62 percent of in-store customers wanted to see surfaces cleaned after each transaction at the checkout. Fifty-nine percent were reassured seeing “extra cleaning precautions and preventions” when visiting a business.
It’s clear from observations that many retailers have cut back on the number of hours being dedicated to sanitizing surfaces in stores. Retailers are expanding their hours of operation after having closed locations to perform nightly cleanings. Stores that once handed you clean carts located inside their doors are having shoppers pick up their own carts outside, with wipes for self-cleaning provided at entrances.
Some businesses including hospitals have invested in robotic technology that cleans surfaces using ultraviolet light that kills COVID-19 and other bacteria.
- Safety and cleanliness–make it or break it. – Deloitte
- Deep cleans and disinfecting mists might not keep us from getting the virus, but they sure make us feel better – The Washington Post
- Still wiping down your grocery store purchases? What you need to know – Rochester Democrat & Chronicle
- Robot cleaners are coming, this time to wipe up your coronavirus germs – The Washington Post
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Should stores start allocating resources away from cleaning surfaces to other areas? How should they address the emotional component of this with concerned shoppers and employees?