Two months after shutting down due to COVID-19, retail stores across Canada are starting to reopen—slowly but surely. While actual regulations regarding the types of stores that are allowed to open differ from province to province (for example, you’ll recall that garden centres were one of the first categories in Ontario to get the green light), one common thread is that an abundance of caution is necessary when allowing customers to return to indoor shopping spaces.
In Ontario, only stores that are located outside of indoor shopping malls have been allowed to reopen as of May 19 (with many choosing to open later in order to better prepare their stores and employees). That means if a retail store in Ontario is street-facing, there’s a chance it’s now reopened, or will be soon.
In British Columbia, retail stores were able to open in mid-May, and in Alberta, even malls were able to reopen on May 14. Quebec’s reopening phase began just this week, on May 25, and is mainly happening in the Greater Montreal area.
In Manitoba, stores (inside and outside of malls) have been opened since May 4, as long as they were able to comply with provincial regulations, such as providing employees with PPE (Personal Protective Equipment). In Saskatchewan, along with retail stores reopening on May 19, hair salons, barber shops and massage therapists were also allowed to reopen their doors.
On the east coast, stores began to reopen in mid-May if they were able to comply with safety measures, and in Nova Scotia businesses like gyms, bars and hair salons will be allowed to reopen on June 5 if they’re ready.
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You can read more about your province’s reopening guidelines here. Below, we’ve outlined the reopening guidelines in place at many of your favourite retail stores. So if you’ve been itching for some long-awaited IRL retail therapy, here’s what you need to know before you head out.
The Canadian retailer has started to reopen its stores (you can check if your nearest Aritzia is open here) and has implemented a few safety measures to ensure customers are able to follow provincial guidelines while shopping. This includes reduced customer capacity (so expect line-ups!), social distance markers, contactless payment, masks that are available to all staff members (and customers upon request), and sanitization of clothing and fitting rooms after each use. A designated health and safety advisor will also be present at each location during open hours.
Everyone’s favourite place to spend a rainy Sunday afternoon has begun its first reopening phase, and the majority of stores across Canada are now open to shoppers. Along with limiting capacity and ensuring physical distancing is maintained, thorough cleaning protocols will be put in place, and all stores will only be accepting contactless payment. Protective acrylic shields have been installed at each register, and the brand is encouraging all shoppers to download the Chapters-Indigo app to help with in-store searches. The full details of Chapters-Indigo’s reopening can be found here.
Frank and Oak
Nine Frank and Oak stores across Canada will be reopening as of June 1, including stores in Quebec, British Columbia, Ontario and Alberta. Each location’s guidelines will differ, so we recommend you check out the brand’s website for details about your nearest location. Some of the safety protocols include limited or closed fitting rooms, contactless payment, masks for all staff members, mandatory hand sanitizing upon entry, and more. For store locations with open fitting rooms, clothing that has been tried on will be sanitized and kept aside for 12 hours before being returned to the sales floor. If you prefer to shop online and simply pick up your package in store, you can now direct your shipment to any open Frank and Oak location.
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H&M has started to gradually reopen its stores across Canada, though all fitting rooms will remain closed. The retailer will “prioritize card payments,” according to a statement, pause its garment collecting services, and provide protective gear for all of its employees. Returns will be held for 24 hours before being placed back on the sales floor, and Plexiglass barriers have been installed at all cash registers. To learn if your nearest H&M location has been reopened, check here.
All Holt Renfrew stores in Canada have now been reopened, though its Montreal locations have opened only select boutiques and departments for the time being. Along with operating within reduced store hours and with reduced entrances, Holt Renfrew is taking safety precautions such as deep-cleaning the store prior to opening each day, and making masks and gloves available to all employees, as well as to customers upon request. All high-touch items, such as PIN pads, will be sanitized after each use, and cash will not be accepted at Holt Renfrew stores. The Holts Café and valet services will continue to be closed. In the beauty department, facials and makeup services will not be offered, but touchless consultations and sampling via paper face charts where Beauty Advisors can demonstrate product use and colours, will be available to customers. Read all about Holt Renfrew’s updated guidelines here.
HomeSense, Marshalls and Winners
TJX stores—AKA HomeSense, Marshalls and Winners—in Ontario, Quebec and Nova Scotia will be reopening this week. The brands’ stores, distribution centres and offices had all been closed during the COVID-19 outbreak. Updated safety protocols that have been put in place for the reopening include regular cleaning of high-touch areas, protective shields at cash registers and social distancing markers throughout the store. You can read more about TJX’s reopening policies here.
All Hudson’s Bay stores across Canada have now reopened and will be operating from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m., with regular cleaning and sanitization happening before, during and after those hours. On Tuesdays, stores will open at 11 a.m. to allow for dedicated shopping hours for seniors, and 11 a.m. on Thursdays for frontline workers. If you prefer to do curbside pickup, all locations are offering pickup of online orders in as little as three hours. If you’re shopping for beauty products, Beauty Pros will be offering single-use samples while maintaining social distancing guidelines. Read more about The Bay’s new safety protocols here.
In need of some new shelves for all of the houseplants you’ve ordered during quarantine? No? Just me? As of Tuesday, May 26, Ikea locations in Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec have been reopened. Stores in Nova Scotia and British Columbia remain closed. The Ikea Restaurant and children’s play area will remain closed, while the Ikea Bistro will be available for takeout only. The retailer is providing floor decals to encourage customers to keep at least two metres of space between them, maintaining a limited capacity of customers at certain locations, and installing separation screens around cash registers and customer service points. The full list of Ikea’s new safety measures can be found here.
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Fourteen Kiehl’s stores across Canada have recently reopened with newly implemented safety guidelines, including employees’ use of masks and gloves, a thorough sanitization of all stores prior to opening, regular cleaning of surfaces every two hours at minimum, and reduced hours and customer capacity. However, all consultations and expert services will remain suspended until further notice. To get your skincare fix, take a look at the Kiehl’s locations that have been reopened here.
After closing all of its stores on March 16, the Canadian activewear company has officially begun its reopening phase, so you can get back into everyone’s favourite buttery soft leggings. Part of the new regulations include moving to a cashless payment system, where possible, meaning customers can pay with credit or debit cards, or digital wallets (like Apple Pay). Staff members will be required to wear face masks and undergo daily health testing. Physical distancing will be maintained via a limited number of shoppers permitted inside the store and closing every second fitting room to allow for more space. Finally, a contact-free, same-day pickup service is available at select store locations. You can read more about Lulemon’s reopening strategy here.
Nordstrom reopened its first store mid-May, with other locations following suit gradually over the coming weeks. Both the Nordstrom Pacific Centre in Vancouver and Nordstrom Chinook Centre in Calgary opened their doors on May 28. Some of the precautions the store will take include: providing face coverings for employees and customers, redoing store layouts as necessary, to allow for social distancing, reducing hours at some locations, limiting the number of customers in store, and cleaning fitting rooms after every use. Read more about the retailer’s reopening guidelines here.
Select Sephora locations started to reopen on May 22 and will continue to reopen on a staggered basis, according to the beauty retailer. Along with a Sephora employee greeting customers at the door to ensure the store allows a certain number of shoppers in at a time, employees will receive mandatory temperature checks before and during their shifts, and surfaces will be cleaned every two hours or after each use. Testers and in-store services will not be available at this time. (No swatching yet, sorry!) You can learn more about Sephora’s reopening guidelines here.
Most Simons locations have reopened in the last week, with the exception of the retailer’s Vancouver and Square One locations, which will be reopening on June 1, and the Ottawa location, which will reopen at a later (to be announced) date. Aside from installing signage to remind shoppers of social distancing guidelines, hand-washing will be mandatory upon entry and exit of the store. Hand-sanitizing stations have also been implemented at cash registers and throughout the store. Fitting room capacity will be reduced, and each room will be sanitized after every use. Finally, clothing that has been tried on will be placed in a special isolation area to be thoroughly steamed before being returned to the sales floor. Read more about Simons’ reopening guidelines here.
Uniqlo reopened five of its thirteen Canadian stores on May 19 after being closed for more than two months, but only Alberta and British Columbia are part of this reopening phase. The retailer will employ stricter safety protocols than most stores, including mandatory temperature checks for all customers upon entry, no access to fitting rooms, limited shopper capacity and daily temperature checks for all employees, who will also be wearing protective gear throughout their shift. Clothing returns will also be held for 48 hours before being returned to the sales floor. Uniqlo’s full reopening statement and list of guidelines can be found here.
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Select Zara stores across Canada have reopened and are operating under a reduced schedule (11 a.m. to 7 p.m.). In Toronto, only two Zara stores have been reopened: the Bloor Street and Queen West locations, which are standalone stores with street-facing entrances. Fitting rooms will remain closed at all reopened locations and while returns are now permitted, returned clothing will be sanitized before being placed back on the sales floor. You can check the reopening status of your nearest Zara location here.