Holiday shopping, like much this year, will look different because of the ongoing novel coronavirus pandemic.
As cases continue to climb nationwide, health officials are reiterating guidance and recommendations to help reduce the spread of the virus. Meanwhile, local businesses affected by a downturn in foot traffic are working to accommodate holiday shoppers by providing clean environments and alternatives to in-store browsing.
"Shopping local is more important this year than ever, and the Uptown businesses are preparing for a great holiday shopping season," said Lara Hudson, Uptown Greenwood manager.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the state Department of Health and Environmental Control have provided guidelines for businesses to shape their day-to-day operations, as well as offering guidance in how to handle positive cases among employees or if an employee is a close contact of someone who tests positive. Hudson said Uptown businesses have been following strict cleaning and sanitizing guidelines, and earlier this year Gov. Henry McMaster lifted capacity restrictions.
"They are doing everything they can to make sure the safety and well-being of their customers is a top priority," Hudson said.
DHEC guidelines say employees should wear masks or cloth face coverings and encourage people to follow the advice from public health officials to stay at least 6 feet away from others, frequently wash hands, regularly clean frequently touched surfaces and increase ventilation where possible.
"Have those masks handy," Hudson said. "We are still under a mask requirement in the city limits of Greenwood. If you get Uptown and realize you don't have one, most if not all of our shops can provide you with a mask."
The CDC suggests that for people who do have to shop in person, go to stores during hours when fewer people will be there. Disinfect shopping carts, don't touch your face and the agency recommends using marked entrances and exits, along with following any directional signage designed to promote social distancing. The CDC also recommends touchless payment, if possible.
"If a shopper is still wary of shopping inside a store, all of our shops are still offering pick-up curbside and in some cases delivery," Hudson said. "Just reach out and ask."
She said Uptown businesses also all have some form of e-commerce, whether it's a website with an online storefront or stores using social media to show off items that can be bought with a phone call. The CDC also recommends shopping online rather than in person, especially on the usual big shopping days of Black Friday and Cyber Monday.