Press Releases


Safe Holiday Shopping

DPH / DECD Press Release

For Immediate Release – November 25, 2020


Guidance for Safer Shopping During the 2020 Holiday Season



For many of us, enjoying the shopping experience is as important a part of the holiday season as anything else we normally do to celebrate the time between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day.  However, with the current state of the pandemic, the traditional large crowds, long lines, and “super sales” concentrated around specific days all represent increased risk for COVID-19 infection to shoppers and potentially passing that infection on to family and friends.  People 65 years of age and older, and those with underlying medical conditions, are at even greater risk.

Connecticut’s Department of Public Health and the Department of Economic and Community Development are offering the following tips for “Safer Shopping” this holiday season.

Tips for Retailers:

  • Consider offering “senior hours” set aside for shopping exclusively by older individuals (65+) who are more at risk of severe outcomes from COVID-19 infection.
  • Instill confidence in the safety of your store by posting clear signage about mask requirements, social distancing reminders, traffic patterns, etc.  Ensure that all staff are modeling safety measures appropriately and consistently.
  • Develop a system for controlling crowds both inside and outside the building.  Remember, stores are responsible for maintaining a 50% capacity limit.
    • For example, if the store is at capacity, invite additional shoppers to “take a number” and wait in their car rather than lining up outside the door.  Design a “staging area” for the next 10 or so customers who will be allowed in as others leave and develop a way to alert those waiting in the parking lot when their number is called.
  • Smaller local retailers may consider offering “local delivery” within a certain radius of the store for added convenience, safety, and support for their customers.
  • Increase your online presence.  Local retailers may be able to take advantage of social media sites to connect with shoppers who may prefer to shop local and avoid “big box” crowds.
  • Consider offering scheduled curbside pick-up for customers placing orders online or over the phone.
  • Consider loosening time restrictions for customers to return items for a refund.  This will help keep your capacity available for purchasing rather than refund transactions.

    Retailers should ensure that they are in compliance with the current Sector Rules prescribed by DECD and stay up-to-date on any changes that may occur by checking the DECD Sector Rules website frequently at


    Tips for Shoppers:

  • Shop Small, Shop Local:  Shopping close to home will help to keep shopping trips short and help small local retailers keep their businesses going during this difficult time. For holiday gift ideas that are local and unique to CT check here:
  • Shop with a Plan:  The usual method of wandering the aisles looking for gift ideas may not be the best idea this year.  Do your “window shopping” from home, make your list, get in, get out, and get home.
  • Shop Virtually:  Buying items online is easier and more convenient than ever.  Many retailers offer free shipping to your door or quick pick-up at the store for online purchases.  Some even deliver to designated parking spaces, so you don’t need to leave the comfort of your car.
  • Shop Only with Your Household:  Shopping with extended family and friends is a holiday tradition for many.  However, shopping only with members of your household is a safer alternative this year.
  • Use the Parking Lot: Parking lots can serve as a point-of-delivery and as a guide.  If you can’t easily find a spot, or if there is a line outside the store, it may be safer for you to come back at another time.
  • Avoid Crowds: Do this by shopping during “off-peak” hours.  Online search engines may give information about when people typically shop at local establishments. 
  • Check Return Policies: Check in advance and avoid unnecessary trips to return items until after the new year.  Most retailers also provide an option to return items by mail.
  • Wear a Mask: Always wear a mask that covers your nose and mouth when you are outside of your home, even if you feel well.  If you are at a shop that doesn’t require customers to wear masks, take your business somewhere else.
  • Keep Your Distance:  Even if you shop when crowds are small, it is important to minimize the time you spend in close contact (within 6 ft.) with people outside of your household.
  • Clean Your Hands frequently with soap and water if available, or with alcohol-based hand sanitizer.  Clean hands before and after visiting a store, and during your visit if you will be inside the store for a long period of time or will handle many items.

For more information on ways individuals and families can make the holiday season safer, please visit:


Jim Watson
Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development
860-306-3737 (cell)