Woodfield Mall Versus Covid-19

A sign outside of Nordstrom store indicating the next steps for customers who ordered online and for curbside pickup. Photo courtesy of Shadenn Gomez.

A sign outside of Nordstrom store indicating the next steps for customers who ordered online and for curbside pickup. Photo courtesy of Shadenn Gomez.

2019 Holiday season: Crowded stores, long checkout lines, children crying as they sit on Santa’s lap, a crowded play area with tons of adults sitting inches away from each other as their children interact, and, of course, the ability to see the smiles on people’s faces. Will this still hold true for the upcoming 2020 holiday season?

As Covid-19 hit the United States early this year, people’s regular life has been altered some way or another. One thing that has changed is the way customers choose to shop. Earlier this year, with lockdown in effect, the only way to shop retail was online. As restrictions have been lifted, in-person shopping has begun.

The holiday season has not begun, yet there are already major changes that the mall has put into action. One major change, not only in the mall, but everywhere, is the requirement of masks to enter any public building.

“There were security guards posted at each entrance to ensure each person entering was wearing a face covering,” retail associate of Lush, Mikaela Montecarlos said. Also mentioning that when the lockdown was just lifted, if a customer was not wearing a face mask, security guards had one in hand ready to give out.

However, the Lush associate did say not everyone uses their mask the right way. “An alarming amount of people of all ages either wear them [mask] ineffectively or boldly just not wear them at all,” Montecarlos said.

A line of customers waiting to go inside Pandora as the store is at its limitation capacity. Photo courtesy of Shadenn Gomez.

Another noticeable change is the number of people allowed in each store. Each store is different in size so the number of people allowed in a certain store is also different.

Yenyssel Bernal, a retail associate of Victoria’s Secret at Woodfield Mall, explained their store went from having about 65 customers to 21 customers at a time. “People have enough space between them to prevent the virus from spreading,” Bernal said.

These guidelines are the general requirements for the mall as a whole. However, each associate’s store has additional tips and requirements to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

“Before we start our shift, we take an assessment as well as taking our temperature making sure it’s not over 100 degrees fahrenheit,” Bernal said. Her manager even recommended their employees to “shower and change into new clothing once arriving home” in order to prevent them from infecting their family members.

As retail associates try to do everything to prevent the virus from spreading, some customers are still hesitant about doing so.

In a survey conducted to a handful of William Rainey Harper students, 63.6% of students said they prefer to shop online rather than the 9.1% of them who said they prefer to shop in person.

Those who preferred to shop online said this type of method gives them a bigger range of options is less time consuming and is a safer way to shop with a pandemic going on.

On the other hand, 9.1% of customers feel generally safe to shop in person.

Those who preferred in-person shopping mentioned that they actually like to see what they are shopping for. Customer of Woodfield Mall, Nathan Hernandez, states “​I like to actually see my items and try them on to be certain with my purchase.” Others had shared similar reasons.

Shopping in person has been a way to distract people from the problems of the world. “Shopping in-person helps alleviate the stress I feel about being inside,” a fan of in-person shopping, Acacia Ramirez said. “There is something about letting the wind blow through my hair that helps me forget about the virus.”

Woodfield Mall’s Children’s play area empty Saturday afternoon to help decrease the spread. Photo courtesy of Shadenn Gomez.

When asked how they would shop for the 2020 holiday season, the percentage of online shoppers went down from 63.6% to 41.7%.

Seeing decorations and the feeling of the Christmas spirit is one of the main reasons Nathan Hernandez, frequent shopper of Woodfield Mall, mentioned. “Online shopping can get difficult as I want to know that my family members are getting exactly what I want them to receive.”

Workers, on the other hand, have “mixed feelings” about the upcoming 2020 holiday season. “I don’t know what to expect with the flu season coming up,” Lush employee, Mikaela, said. “I expect people to still shop even though they’re not feeling well.”

In contrast, Victoria’s Secret employee Bernal is looking forward to the holiday season. “It’s always exciting for the new specials and offers and just helping people find the right items for them,” she explained.

As for the worries with shopping during a global pandemic, Victoria’s Secret retail associate explained, “Of course we’re gonna take higher precautions with the limit of people coming since we all know how crazy things can get during Black Friday” after mentioning the mall would not be open on Thanksgiving day nor Christmas day.