How Best Buy and Apple are Reopening

Apple requires face masks in its stores, where the reopening strategy is based on limited occupancy and “plenty of space.”

By Alan Wolf, YSN

Two of the top tech and appliance retailers, Best Buy and Apple Stores, are starting to reopen locations across the country as restrictions ease and consumers clamor for access to retail stores.

However, customers will find their shopping experience at the two chains radically different as the companies embrace new rules in the age of coronavirus.

Related: AVB’s Checklist for the “New Normal”

Best Buy, which was limited to curbside pickup through April and May, has now instituted a by-appointment-only policy. Customers are advised to schedule their store visit one or two days in advance via phone, app or online, after which they will be prescreened by phone for COVID symptoms, prequalified for the sale, and briefed on the new in-store procedures.

Upon arrival, shoppers will be assigned a salesperson and asked to wear a face mask, whether their own or one provided by the store. Blue shirts, who receive health checks before every shift, will also don face masks as well as gloves, and will maintain social distancing throughout the store visit. Hand sanitizer wipes will also be available at check-in.

Best Buy has instituted hours by appointment only and requests
that customers wear face masks.

In lieu of price tags, all pricing will be based on Best Buy’s online retails, requiring the use the company’s mobile app, and guidance will be given on the safe handling of demo products and equipment. At checkout, customers will find acrylic shields at all cash registers, and PIN/signature pads will be cleaned before and after each transaction. Store staff will carry large or heavy items to shoppers’ vehicles and load them if the customer first opens the door, trunk or tailgate to avoid contact.

At Apple Stores, which have long been the retail industry’s leader in sales per square foot, new rules are certain to sink that metric. In an open letter to customers, Deirdre O’Brien, Apple’s Senior Vice President, Retail + People, said the chain’s reopening strategy is focused on “limiting occupancy and giving everybody lots of room.” Unlike Best Buy, face masks will be mandatory for all customers and staff and temperature checks will be conducted at the door. O’Brien also promised “enhanced deep cleanings” throughout the day on all surfaces, and said the procedures were based on, refined and expanded from its experience in China, where its stores have been open for months.

Here in the U.S., Apple plans to open more than 100 of its 271 domestic stores this week across 19 states. However, some locations will be limited to curbside pickup, where Genius Bar tech support will be stationed as well. As O’Brien explained, “Our commitment is to only move forward with a reopening once we’re confident we can safely return to serving customers from our stores. We look at every available piece of data — including local cases, near and long‑term trends, and guidance from national and local health officials.”

For those who do reenter an Apple Store, she added, “You’ll find yourself with plenty of space.”

YSN is published by AVB Inc.