NCRF: All products can be sold, summer imports allowed, but lessons will have to be learnt
Cape Town, W Cape, SA – Any apparel retailer can sell any item of apparel, all apparel retailers are allowed to have all members of staff at work, and the only restrictions now are hygiene - masks, sanitizers and social distancing. That's the situation as of today as far as the National Clothing Retailers' Federation understands it, executive director Michael Lawrence said on Friday.
Also, the import of summer merchandise is allowed, he said.
"As far as the regulations for retailers is concerned, there's no 'one size fits all'," he said. "Having all your staff at work, for example, may reduce the number of customers you can allow in at a time, because there's a mathematical formula, based on a retailer's floor space, which determines how many people may be in a store at a time.
"We'll be learning a great deal over the next few weeks. Apparel shopping is normally unstructured, and people like to look around. Now, retailers will need to try to get them in and out as quickly as possible, but still make the sale, which will make the positioning of products very important. Consumers will have to get used to new ways of shopping.
"I don't know the answer to fitting and returns. Clothing stores aren't obliged, by law, to allow people to try on items. In terms of the Consumer Protection Act, returns are allowed. But both of these are areas where there is potential for infection. Individual retailers will have to work this out for themselves."
He said retailers had been asked to stagger opening and closing times to reduce customer numbers. "It could work quite nicely," he said, "but there are issues - overtime hours for staff, for example, and the safety and security of staff and customers being out or on public transport outside of normal shopping hours."
He said the import of all apparel was allowed, although "the Minister may make rulings from time to time".
A concern was that with the backlog of containers to be cleared from ports, checking would be less stringent, and illegal imports could increase significantly.