NEW HAVEN, Conn. — The holiday shopping season will look a lot different in 2020. Governor Ned Lamont is asking retailers to enforce social distancing and mask rules as cases spike in the state.
"We do believe that retail could be done safely but retail only works if it’s being done safely," said Lamont.
Black Friday is on the horizon and so are the five most important weeks in the retail industry. The Governor asked local malls and shopping districts to monitor each other to ensure safe practices are being kept.
"If you’re not patrolling that and monitoring that and keeping the six-foot spacing, we’re going to have a hard time keeping retail open.
Malls across the state are already prepping for large crowds. Extra staff will be on hand to monitor social distancing, store capacities and to help navigate groups.
"Start shopping some off peak hours if you’re able to," said Spokesperson Amanda Sirica of the Westfarms Mall. "Those Monday through Friday daytime hours are really great time to come out to the mall."
Retailers are spreading their holiday shopping specials throughout the day and weeks to prevent a rush. They are advising shoppers to plan ahead.
"We would encourage people to do what they feel comfortable with," said Retail Expert Kate Sirignano of the Connecticut Post Mall. "If you’re not comfortable coming into the shop, we also have a "retail to go" program which is basically curbside pickup."
Curbside pickup is not limited to your big box stores, many of your favorite Shops at Yale are doing the same.
"Many shops are willing to accommodate," said Kimberly Pedrick, President of the Chapel Street Merchant Association. "With the shopping local we can personalize that experience to the customer, so they are comfortable."
While that experience may be different, the excitement remains the same. Many downtown New Haven retailers have teamed up for promotions to help spread holiday cheer.
They are offering a "Holiday Shopping Passport". It is offered at 38 participating stores from November 1st through December 20th. Your purchases can earn you free gifts. If you spend $25 at one store, you’ll get a stamp. Do that at four stores and you’ll be entered to win a prize pack valued at $950.
"If everybody makes a big concerted effort to shop local for some of your gift giving needs, it will make a tremendous impact on our local economy," said Pedrick.