“How Retailers Can Teach Empathy for De-Escalation” by Derek Belch via Total Retail

“How Retailers Can Teach Empathy for De-Escalation” by Derek Belch via Total Retail

Retailers and consumers alike had just started to feel hopeful about a post-pandemic future a mere few weeks ago. However, with the COVID-19 Delta variant quickly becoming a concern, retailers across the country have made the move to reinstate mask mandates indoors. Unsurprisingly, this latest round of mask mandates has come with mounting tensions. Many store associates have found themselves in very uncomfortable, and sometimes violent encounters with disgruntled customers, with facemasks continuing to pose a controversial debate. As such, with the onus sitting squarely on the shoulders of front-line employees to outline and enforce these mask mandates, many businesses are looking at proactive measures to help train and prepare workers for potentially highly charged customer encounters. Preparing Our People With Empathy Training During these challenging times, customer-facing employees will be looking for guidance on best practices and reassurance on how to handle potentially tense situations with customers. Signals must come from the top, emphasizing the importance of being confident and prepared with the skills needed to de-escalate stressful interactions. It often comes down to the ability to show empathy to those experiencing stress or anxiety. However, this typically doesn’t come naturally and requires proper training. This is why empathy training is key for giving front-line associates the tools to prepare for what they’re likely to face, such as what Walmart is doing with its beKIND program meant for teaching and measuring empathy in customer service. Customer-facing employees can benefit immensely by being able to embody the feelings of an anxious guest or customer. Through realistic, immersive training modalities, learners can better understand a customer’s point of view, whether or not they agree, in order...
“Shoppers returning to their earlier pandemic behaviors, research finds” by Daphne Howland via Retail Dive

“Shoppers returning to their earlier pandemic behaviors, research finds” by Daphne Howland via Retail Dive

kajakiki via Getty Images Dive Brief: Consumers are retrenching in the face of the delta variant of the coronavirus, with 20% “highly optimistic” about a return to normal, down from a third at the beginning of the summer, according to Numerator research. Nearly 60% are “very or somewhat concerned” about holiday plans being disrupted by the pandemic, Berkeley Research Group found.The number of people who said they had resumed pre-COVID behaviors fell for the first time, from 39% in July to 27% in August, Numerator said. Nearly half say they expect a full reopening to be delayed until 2022 or later, up from 23% who said so in July and 18% in June, the firm found. The comfort level of shopping without a mask dropped 15 percentage points from July to August, with 34% preferring to go in stores with mask requirements and 36% having a higher level of respect for businesses that enforce mask wearing, per Numerator research.  Dive Insight: After waning this year, troublesome uncertainty is gaining strength, as the delta variant of the virus spreads and immunization rates in many areas falter. Wells Fargo economists noted that new COVID-19 cases were averaging about 100,000 daily at the time of their August economic outlook report, but had risen to more than 150,000 per day at the time of their September report last week.  “As a result, Americans have generally become more cautious,” they noted. To address the renewed strength of the disease and its risks to health, life and the economy, President Joe Biden last week announced an unprecedented move to require large businesses to vaccinate their employees or have any unvaccinated employees produce a...
“Retailers are rethinking mask policies in the wake of new CDC guidance—and it could get complicated”

“Retailers are rethinking mask policies in the wake of new CDC guidance—and it could get complicated”

A “Mask Required” sign at the entrance to a Kroger Co. grocery store in Houston, Texas, on Wednesday, March 10, 2021.Scott Dalton | Bloomberg | Getty Images KEY POINTS Retailers are again contemplating whether or not to reinstate mask mandates in stores for shoppers and employees, following updated CDC guidelines.The National Retail Federation said it is “truly unfortunate” that these mask recommendations have returned for much of the country.Apple is asking both vaccinated and unvaccinated customers to wear masks in many of its U.S. stores.Other businesses are expected to follow suit with revised masking policies in the coming days. Retailers have waded back into all-too-familiar territory that they didn’t think they’d be faced with again, as many are contemplating whether or not to reinstate mask mandates in stores for shoppers and employees. On Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a fresh recommendation that calls for wearing face masks again in areas of the country where the Covid-19 virus is spreading the most rapidly. That covers about two-thirds of all counties in the United States. The decision came roughly two months after the CDC in May said vaccinated individuals could go without masks. The delta variant, however, has driven cases back up and led the agency to reevaluate. The National Retail Federation, a leading trade group for the industry, said in a statement that retailers large and small “will continue to follow the guidance of the CDC.” It added, however, “It is truly unfortunate that mask recommendations have returned when the surest known way to reduce the threat of the virus is widespread vaccination.” Some businesses have been quick to react....
“What the delta variant already means for retail” by Daphne Howland via Retail Dive

“What the delta variant already means for retail” by Daphne Howland via Retail Dive

Rapid development and distribution of vaccines promised to halt the pandemic, but new surges brought on by viral mutations threaten progress. A change in mask-wearing guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Tuesday — urging even vaccinated people to wear masks indoors in areas with “substantial or high transmission” — signaled fresh worry about a pandemic that earlier this year seemed to be on the wane in the U.S., thanks to the rapid development and distribution of vaccines. A stock market dip the week before was also attributed to rising concerns about a mutation of the COVID-19 coronavirus known as the delta variant, which is proving to be even more contagious than the strains that took such a toll last year. Hospitals in some areas are once again under pressure. For developing and poor countries, which have the lowest vaccination rate, the problem is access to vaccines, according to the International Monetary Fund, which on Tuesday warned the delta variant threatens the global economy. In the U.S., nearly all patients with serious illness have been unvaccinated, in part due to vaccine hesitancy. The National Retail Federation took on that issue in its response to the new guidance. “It is truly unfortunate that mask recommendations have returned when the surest known way to reduce the threat of the virus is widespread vaccination,” the group said in a statement Tuesday. “The CDC’s latest guidance underscores the urgency for more Americans to become fully vaccinated so we can all emerge from this pandemic.” While the news is alarming, a repeat of the lockdowns of last year that hit the retail industry so hard seems unlikely. Still, the delta variant is already affecting retailers in three...
“Should retailers continue to require associates and customers to wear masks?” by George Anderson with commentary by 38 retail experts via Retail Wire

“Should retailers continue to require associates and customers to wear masks?” by George Anderson with commentary by 38 retail experts via Retail Wire

Americans who have received full doses of COVID-19 vaccines (one or two shots, depending on the manufacturer) and have allowed at least two weeks to pass will now be free to go about their daily activities without wearing a mask. This applies both to outdoor as well as most indoor activities, with the exception of airline travel, public transport and certain other mandated situations. Everyone else needs to keep wearing masks, particularly in indoor environments. Those are the basic rules laid out in new guidelines by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which provided the caveat that citizens should continue to follow local and/or state rules as they apply to mask wearing. The guidance did not specifically address businesses, although the takeaways seem clear for public-facing companies. Masks should continue to be worn by all that have not been vaccinated even when state or local rules say otherwise. That means, in practical terms, that unless a retailer has a way to verify people have been vaccinated before they enter stores, it is prudent that they continue to enforce mask wearing rules. This seems to be particularly true in locations where COVID-19 disinformation is prevalent and vaccination rates are low. Business owners and employers are being cautioned by workplace experts not to fling open the doors and throw away their masks just yet. Kevin Troutman, an attorney with Fisher Phillips in Houston, told SHRM Online, that employers should wait until the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) updates its workplace safety guidance before making any changes. The New York Times reports that some states have lifted mandates following the CDC’s announcement and...
BRA Covid-19 Retailer Resource Guide (strategies, webinars, loans and more) – published on March 23, 2020 / last updated with links to recently updated resources on May 14, 2021

BRA Covid-19 Retailer Resource Guide (strategies, webinars, loans and more) – published on March 23, 2020 / last updated with links to recently updated resources on May 14, 2021

Welcome to the BRA COVID-19 Resource Guide. Below you will find resources for the benefit of all board specialty retailers (BRA Retail Members and non-members alike) during this challenging period. The Board Retailers Association is actively aggregating resources to assist you in navigating these uncharted waters. We update this page with additional resources regularly. If you are interested in contributing relevant information or helpful resources that will benefit other board specialty retailers, please email our Executive Director at doug@boardretailers.org Relevant and trustworthy online resources providing facts related to transmission of Covid-19 (Corona Virus) and strategies to battle the spread #spreadthestokenotthevirus Center for Disease Control (CDC) – Official Website Flatten The Curve – Everything you and your customers need to know to battle COVID-19 is on this website World Health Organization – Mental health and psychosocial considerations during the COVID-19 outbreak This epic and relevant drawing was created by Reddit User Darth Voter Relevant educational webinars (on-demand) > Crystal Media – 3 Tips To Get Started With Social Selling Today and Staying Top-of-Mind and Connected to Customers During a Pandemic > Management One – 1) “The Retailer’s Guide to the Economic Stimulus Package & Financial Options to Address COVID-19” – The CARES Act is a complex mix of government aid and bank loans each with their own timelines and requirements. The parameters and regulations for these loans is changing hourly! 2) With rent being one of the highest monthly expenses for brick and mortar retail businesses, it’s a good idea to approach the subject of temporarily altering the structure of your agreement – The Art of Landlord Negotiation to Ease the Highest...