In Qatar, authorities have lifted most of the restrictions related to COVID-19 on retail establishments, museums and libraries. This means that a lot of the big malls have reopened, and there’s no denying that many locals and expats are hoping to get back to their favourite pastime: shopping in Doha.
With the gradual resumption of mall operations, medical and health authorities strongly advise shoppers to continue taking extra care as they go about their shopping. With proper sanitation and safety measures, things are expected to go back to normal sooner than later.
So if you’re already itching to hit the mall, make sure to follow best practices for shopping not just to protect yourself, but other people as well, and so that you can have an enjoyable experience. Here are seven safe shopping tips to keep in mind.
1. Identify the least busy hours and days to shop.
It’s best to schedule your shopping trip when the mall is the least crowded. According to the observation of mall workers, the shopper population dwindles around two hours to closing time. If you are free then, perhaps that’s when you should do your shopping. Remember, the less contact you have with people, the better.
Aside from choosing less busy hours, opt to shop during the weekdays, too. Weekends are quite busy, so if it’s possible to find the time to hit the mall during the week, it will be most convenient to do your shopping then.
2. Consider a store pick-up arrangement.
If you already know what you want to buy, see if you can call the store so they can prepare your order ahead of time and you can just pick it up once you get there. Again, this will minimise your contact with other people, which is one of the keys to avoiding infection.
Plus, with a store pick-up arrangement, you can request the salespeople to thoroughly sanitise your orders as they pack them in a bag or box.
3. Head to the mall with full gear on.
Wear your face mask and protective eyeglasses. It also wouldn’t hurt to have some disposable rubber gloves on, especially if you want to touch some products on display which, for sure, other people have touched as well. Given how serious a health threat COVID-19 is, nobody will say that you’re being, in millennial speak, “extra.” There’s no such thing as being too careful these days.
Also, don’t go anywhere without a bottle of rubbing alcohol or a pack of disinfecting wipes. While it’s most likely that sales and security people go about disinfecting products and surfaces, you can’t be too certain about how thorough they are with this task. Do your bit by bringing your own compact disinfecting agents and put your mind at ease.
4. Opt for items at the back of the shelves.
It’s better to choose items from the back part of display racks and shelves, according to health safety experts. This is because these are the items that are more likely to have come in contact with other shoppers the least. Essentially, by doing this, you’re decreasing the risk of bringing a contaminated item with you.
This is an even more important practice to implement if you’re doing the groceries because aside from the products placed towards the back of the shelves being less likely to be contaminated, they’re usually the freshest as well. In small grocers and leading hypermarkets, attendants stock shelves by putting the newest products at the back of the displays to ensure less fresh options can be moved out and consumed earlier.
5. Take your health booster and allergy medicine.
Taking your health supplement and medicine may seem a bit out of touch as far as shopping is concerned. However, since your primary consideration when going out these days is not to get sick, this tip is a piece of good advice to follow.
A strong immune system is one of the best defences against COVID-19 and other diseases, so make sure your body is loaded with nutrients. If you experience allergic rhinitis, do take your allergy medicine before hitting the mall. These days, you wouldn’t want to be that person coughing, sniffing, or sneezing in the store. Such physical actions can make shoppers and store attendants quite wary of you, so it’s best not to strike fear in other people.
6. Opt for contactless payments.
Again, the less physical contact, the better. If you have a digital wallet that you can use or a QR scanner that will allow you to pay using your digital wallet, choose such a payment system. It’s best to avoid handling money because you don’t know who touched the coins and bills last, or if the store took the time to disinfect payments.
To see if the stores you’ll be shopping at accept or honour digital payments, check their website online or make a call before going to the mall. If most stores are equipped for contactless payments, go ahead and transfer funds to your digital wallet to make sure that you have enough money for all your necessary and sudden purchases.
7. Disinfect purchases once more and take a bath right away when you get home.
This is a must, especially if you come home to a family. Wipe down your purchases with disinfecting wipes before storing them away. Afterwards, remove the clothes you wore to the mall and place them in the wash immediately. And lastly, hit the showers to prevent the potential transmission of viruses (particularly COVID-19) in your house and among family members.
Going through the transition from living with COVID-19 to returning to normal living is not going to be easy. At times, it can even feel painfully slow. But, as previously mentioned, being consistent with sanitation and safety practices now is necessary if the world wants to restore the convenience of life much faster. The shopping tips discussed here can help you contribute to the objective of putting an end to these unusually restrictive times.
Hisham Elzubeir is the Marketing Manager at Doha Festival City, the largest entertainment, fashion, dining and shopping destination in Qatar. The mall has more than 400 international and local brands, including some of the most anticipated names, many of which made their Qatar debut, such as Harvey Nichols, Charlotte Tilbury, Kiehl’s, Dior Beauty Boutique, ACE and IKEA. Hisham brings over 15 years of international expertise to the communications team at Doha Festival City.