The rule of thumb in 2020 seems to be this: Whatever “normal” used to be, it has either been changed (or canceled altogether) in light of the global pandemic. Shopping for the holidays is no exception. However, taking the precautionary steps outlined below can help you buy the gifts you want to give, without jeopardizing your health.
Let your fingers do the walking.
Though that little phrase once applied to the yellow pages in the telephone book, it is now better suited to ecommerce. The great news for safety-conscious consumers is that the internet provides a global selection of sellers vying for your business. In the comfort of your home and on your own time frame, you can research products, browse for size and color, filter options by price and location, and make a purchase from any merchant with the proper equipment to accept credit cards online.
In the past, consumers were understandably wary about purchasing goods and services online. Fly-by-night retailers and the frequency of high-visibility data breaches gave people good reason for concern. Although the risks are not negligible even today, heightened online and credit card security standards have transformed the internet from the wild west into a stately main street atmosphere. That makes online purchases even more appealing during the ongoing pandemic.
Use forethought and caution when shopping in-store.
Perhaps you remain reluctant to shop online, or maybe some of the things you need must be bought locally. Whatever the case may be, in-store shopping is still a possibility that can be safe as long as you are methodical about it.
First of all, your best bet is to get your holiday shopping as early in the season as possible. Human nature being what it is, buyers will still procrastinate even in 2020, which means that crowds will get bigger as the holidays grow closer. That will result in long lines, perhaps inside the store, or even at the entrance in the cold due to capacity restrictions.
Luckily, there are certain times of day when fewer customers tend to shop. Try going right when the store opens, just before closing or in the middle of a weekday when many people are working. Another option is to make as many purchases as possible in farmer’s markets or outdoor retail venues in your area.
Ask about alternative pickup options.
Even before the pandemic arrived on the scene, consumers and retailers were experimenting with innovative product delivery choices. Amazon began same-day shipping in some markets. Meanwhile, several sellers offered customers the option of choosing their products online and picking them up at the store in a matter of a few hours.
Concerns about safety have made these alternatives even more compelling. Nowadays, numerous merchants, including local small businesses, are giving buyers the chance to order and pay online or by phone, and drive to the location and have their merchandise placed in their trunk without any physical contact occurring. In terms of both safety and convenience, this purchasing method checks all the boxes.
Investigate third-party delivery services.
At a time when retailers are fighting for their very survival, third-party delivery services have jumped on an opportunity to match safety-conscious buyers who choose not to leave their homes with individuals who are willing to do the shopping and delivery for them. Companies like Instacart and Uber have expanded their offerings to provide consumers with the food, groceries, medications, and other essential items they need brought directly to their door. A large sector of consumers are more than willing to pay a premium cost for this convenient and contactless option.
Keep physical contact to a minimum.
As our knowledge about the coronavirus expands, we are coming to learn that the risk of contracting COVID-19 from surfaces is low. Even so, proper hand hygiene is always a good idea, as it helps reduce your risk of contracting other bugs and germs.
In addition to frequent hand washing, it’s also a good idea to pay contactlessly whenever possible. This can be done either by using the digital wallet built into your smartphone or via a credit card equipped to interface with a contactless reader.
In order to accomplish this, you must set up your phone’s digital wallet app in advance by inputting your payment information. Alternately, use a card branded with a wave symbol to make the transaction by simply placing it near the merchant’s reader or lightly tapping it. In either case, the payment will be verified and conducted securely within just a couple of seconds.
Follow CDC advice.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have published guidelines that will help you to be as safe as possible while shopping during the holiday season. These include the following:
- Wear a mask or cloth face covering, making sure that it is properly positioned over both your mouth and nose.
- Do your best to remain at least six feet apart from others whenever possible.
- Carry hand sanitizer, and use it immediately after you leave the store.
- When you get home, wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
In addition, take steps to protect the people around you. If you don’t feel well, put off your shopping trip until another day.
No doubt, there are many items on your personal holiday shopping list this year and still more that you want to buy for others as gifts. Consistently following these simple safety guidelines can help to minimize your risk of getting sick with the virus. Best of all, they will help to ensure that presents will be the only things you give to your friends and family this holiday season.