Retail during COVID-19? We have your back!

May 13, 2020

Iowa Retail Initiative LogoIowa’s retailers have had to quickly make changes to their businesses and adapt to the evolution of the COVID-19 pandemic. Across Iowa independent retailers instantly went from their doors being open to many of their doors closing, without ways to connect with customers or run their business as usual.  

As the state begins to reopen, the Iowa State University Extension and Outreach Community and Economic Development (CED) Program’s Iowa Retail Initiative (IRI) has been compiling information to help retailers make the transition to providing customer service in the age of social distancing.

While there have been many negative stories about retail, CED specialists decided to highlight some of the creative ways that retailers are still connecting with customers and conducting business in new ways. Small Business Best Practices highlights some of the creative methods retailers of all types are implementing. Many of these examples include the use of virtual media, but also offering such services as delivery, specialty-product packages, and curbside pickup.

As counties are reopening retail across the state, there are specific guidelines that retailers need to address. Reopening guidelines from the governor’s office and Iowa Department of Public Health include such items as maximum number of shoppers based on legal occupancy, CDC cleaning and disinfecting practices, and the practicing of social distancing. The Retail Ready to Reopen Resources provide the direct links to required guidelines, additional tips for retailers, and sign templates that stores can use to communicate with employees and customers on their new COVID-19 safety practices.

What are retail best practices that can help retailers ensure the safest shopping experiences for customers? What are retail best practices that can help retailers ensure their employees have a safe workplace environment?

The new guidelines and safety measures for retail stores impact store design. Retail Design Best Practices provides retailers specific design actions they can take to address those requirements when reopening their doors. Retail exteriors, layout, merchandising, and connecting with customers are all included in this new resource. While the need for alternative shopping methods are not going to go away anytime soon, retailers can continue to implement measures to enhance their customers’ shopping experiences.

For more information about the Iowa Retail Initiative, contact Lisa Bates at 515-357-8185 or