holt renfrew canada

Holt Renfrew is reopening stores in Canada and here's what they're doing to make them safe

Just like all other retailers set to start partially resuming their normal operations in the coming weeks, Holt Renfrew has a plan for how it will make the shopping experience as safe as possible for customers and staff while the threat of the pandemic still lingers.

The homegrown luxury department store — which is reopening its locations in Calgary, Vancouver and Montreal this month, and its Greater Toronto Area stores sometime in June — announced in characteristic Holts style that its new COVID-19 policies will fall under four "key pillars" to maintain health and safety: housekeeping, hygiene, in-store circulation and new services.

Essentially, the store will heighten cleaning and sanitization efforts, reduce store hours and work to manage the flow of traffic on its 100,000-square-foot-plus sales floors, and encourage customers to use new curbside pickup and virtual shopping options for their Gucci and Prada (which will provide them even more time to try out the bougie cinnamon roll recipe from one the company's executive chefs).

High-touch areas like door handles and railings, debit machines, and fitting room and washroom facilities will be sanitized after every single use, while both front and back-of-house areas will be deep cleaned each morning before opening.

Dispensers of hand sanitizer will also be added throughout each store, with all entrants required to use them before shopping.

Staff will be donned with personal protective equipment like masks and gloves — accessories that they will surely incorporate into their outfits with flawless elegance —  which will also be made available for free to customers while physical distancing measures are enforced.

Cash will also no longer be accepted at any location for the time being — but who is carrying around thousands in cash for the latest from Balenciaga, anyway?

And, to help with all of the above efforts, additional employees will be brought on board across departments.

The three-floor Calgary location on 8th Avenue Southwest was the first Holts to reopen on May 14, and will be followed by the four-level Vancouver store on May 19, and Montreal's all-new 250,000-square-foot Ogilvy shop (as well as its smaller Sherbrooke Street store) on May 25.

There is no date yet for the relaunch of the Bloor and Yonge or Yorkdale stores in Toronto, nor for the location in nearby Mississauga or the Bloor Street West men's boutique.

Store hours will range from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. to as restricted as 12 a.m. to 4 p.m., depending on location as the store sees how its initial return phase pans out.

Though the measures are nothing shocking and are quite similar to those being taken by other businesses starting to open up to the public again for the first time in months, visitors can bet that Holts will have its own methods to uphold the very specific high-end experience it offers and clients it serves — and that there won't be any oh-so-tacky plexiglass shields like at McDonald's, because that would be far too off-brand.

Lead photo by

Greg's Southern Ontario

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