Two of the biggest names in beauty are taking steps to keep customers safe as the coronavirus continues to spread across the United States. On Tuesday, Sephora and Ulta announced that they will be temporarily closing stores as a precautionary measure.
All Sephora stores in the U.S. and Canada will close at 5 p.m. Tuesday, March 17 and will remain closed through Friday, April 3. Employees in the brand's corporate offices will also work remotely during this time.
Sephora made it clear that they remain committed to their staff, stating that "all store employees will continue to receive their base pay for scheduled shifts for the duration of this closure."
Employees who are currently enrolled in health and wellness benefits will also continue to receive them and all distribution center employees "will receive the same considerations should we experience any unplanned disruptions in one of our centers."
In a statement, the brand explained how they came to make this difficult decision: "We also recognize that we are in a position to support the collective fight against COVID-19. Following guidance from public health authorities, we understand that practicing social distancing and reducing dense public gatherings as much as possible is critically important at this time. This is truly a global effort that requires all of our participation."
Ulta released a similar statement, revealing that all of its stores will temporarily close effective 6 p.m. on Thursday, March 19, and will remain closed until at least March 31. That means "buy online and pick up in store" options will be suspended while stores are closed.
“We understand the direct impact this will have on our associates and guests,” CEO Mary Dillon said in the statement. “But during these critical times, we believe it is absolutely necessary to prioritize their safety and that of the broader communities we serve."
Similar to Sephora, all Ulta store and salon associates will continue to receive pay and benefits (for those who are currently enrolled).
Both stores encouraged customers to shop online with Sephora revealing it will waive standard shipping fees through Friday, April 3. The store is also adjusting its 30-day return policy to 60 days for the time being. Ulta is offering free shipping with any purchase of $15 or more and continues to offer its 60 day return policy.
The news of store closures comes after both companies unveiled increased safety measures for all stores last week. On March 11, CEO of Sephora Americas, Jean-André Rougeot, issued the following statement: "We have taken additional actions to ensure our entire organization is here to serve you in the safest way possible. All store employees have been trained to uphold and practice these measures, and we are closely following the latest guidance from the CDC, WHO, local governments and public health agencies,” he wrote.
Most notably, he announced that all Sephora stores would be suspending paid and free in-store services, makeup and skin care application, and classes until further notice.
To help maintain high cleanliness standards, Sephora stores committed to regularly disinfecting all high-touch areas (workstations, product displays and hygiene stations) with a hospital-grade disinfecting cleaner, and said that all stores and distribution centers would undergo a deep cleaning each week. The company also said it was making hand sanitizer readily available for both customers and employees at multiple stations across each store.
Those product testers beauty junkies love so much were also disinfected several times a day and replaced when necessary. Rougeout reminded shoppers that testers shouldn't be applied directly, and encouraged use of the disposable applicators each store keeps in stock.
Ulta CEO Mary Dillon issued a similar statement to shoppers, and emphasized the importance of cleanliness in the company's stores: "In addition to our regular cleaning procedures, increased sanitization measures are being added to all locations with extra attention to product testers and high-traffic areas. For any guest wanting to use a tester or trial a product, please ask an associate to assist you."
Dillon also encouraged shoppers to take advantage of Ulta's GLAMlab, which allows beauty lovers to virtually try on and test colors and shades of makeup.
Much like Sephora, Ulta announced that it was turning its attention to in-store services: "For guests who have services booked, we’re happy to reschedule your appointment for a later date. We encourage you to reschedule if you’re not feeling well. Also note that some services may be temporarily unavailable in certain areas; please check with your local store for more information."
This story was originally published March 12 and has been updated with new information.