Is it safe to try on clothes at a store? What you need to know

Retailers including Nordstrom have new guidelines for their fitting rooms.
/ Source: TODAY

When it comes to clothes shopping, nothing can replace the in-person experience of trying on an item in the changing room. But are fitting rooms safe in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic?

Some major retailers, including Nordstrom and Macy's, have released details on how they will keep fitting rooms safe and clean as they slowly reopen.

Nordstrom, which has reopened about 35 stores across the South so far, says they are keeping some changing rooms closed to ensure social distancing, and are cleaning fitting rooms between each use. Also, after a customer tries something on or returns an item, the item will be put on hold for a period of time before returning to the sales floor.

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Signs, stickers on the ground, and employees will help guide customers and keep them safe while shopping, Jamie Nordstrom, president of stores for Nordstrom, told NBC News correspondent Vicky Nguyen on TODAY.

“We certainly will have a lot of visual cues as you enter, we'll have some stickers on the ground, we'll have lots of signs,” Nordstrom said. “But the way that we deliver service and have for a long time is through people. ... The most important person is that greeter at the door who explains to the customer what's going on, what they can expect.”

A number of stores are requiring shoppers and employees to wear masks.Getty Images

As Macy’s stores reopen, the retailer has said it will keep some fitting rooms closed and hold items that were tried on or returned for 24 hours before placing them on store racks.

Gap has said it is reopening most of its changing rooms.

“In response to customer demand, we’re reopening most of our fitting rooms and increasing regular cleaning,” the company said on its website.

Dr. Tista Ghosh, senior medical director at the health care company Grand Rounds, said if people do visit a mall or clothing store, they should remain vigilant about social distancing, use hand sanitizer, avoid touching their face and, if possible, avoid elevators, where it’s hard to practice social distancing.

Many stores and malls are helping shoppers follow these safety measures. For example, Simon, the largest mall operator in the U.S., says all its locations will provide free masks and sanitizing wipe packets to shoppers, and will encourage people to stay 6 feet apart via signage and public service announcements.

On the other hand, if shoppers see a store, clothing or otherwise, that is not requiring masks or does not offer hand sanitizer or wipes, Ghosh recommends steering clear.

“I personally would not go in. To me that's a sign that they're not taking it seriously,” she said. “And they're needlessly putting people at risk.”