The No. 1 Worst Thing You Can Do While Shopping Right Now

Experts are cautioning shoppers against doing this amid the COVID pandemic.

Reopenings nationwide have allowed the country to go somewhat back to normal. However, things are not exactly the way they were pre-pandemic. And the coronavirus is still very much spreading, making it hard to live life without extra precautions. But sometimes it can be easy to forget all the COVID precautions you need to take, and you might not even realize some of the things you're doing could be putting you at more risk than necessary. According to experts, the worst thing you can do while shopping amid the COVID pandemic is browsing.

"The longer you stay in a store, the higher the risk you will be exposed to someone who is infectious," said Leann Poston, MD, medical advisor for Invigor Health. She says you need to avoid browsing, and advises people to always "make a list" before they enter a store.

And Poston isn't the only expert who has cautioned against spending an extended period of time inside with other people. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has said that being indoors is a lot riskier than being outdoors when it comes to spreading the coronavirus, with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) noting that infected airborne particles may spread farther than six feet when indoors because of poorer air ventilation. According to the CDC, the length of time you are indoors matters because "spending more time with people who may be infected increases your risk of becoming infected."

Woman shopping protecting herself wearing protective mask

The problem, however, is that people really enjoying the in-store browsing experience when it comes to shopping. A Retail Dive Consumer Survey from 2017 found that the "ability to see, touch and feel products as well as take items home immediately" was a huge factor in why people prefer to browse in-store for items rather than shop online. And even those who may end up buying their items online anyway still enjoy going to a store to look beforehand, with 84 percent of Americans saying they enjoy browsing in person no matter if they purchase in-store immediately or later online, according to a June20 study from 2017.

Luckily, despite our collective love for in-store browsing, it seems that many people are taking precautions seriously during the pandemic. Ed Lechner, owner of Selby Shoes Etc. in South Portland, Maine, told Footwear News that people who come in his store to shop nowadays are typically people who already know what they want to buy because "people are tentative and don't want to spend a lot of time in store" right now.

Braden Parker, co-founder of Casca in Vancouver, Canada, echoed Lechner's sentiment. "We've seen more people coming into our store who are very serious [buyers]," Parker told Footwear News. "We used to have more people come in, browse and check things out. Now, people who come in usually have done their research online. They know what they want."

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Unfortunately, Poston has reason to caution, as it appears not everyone is limiting their browsing. Anna Mastroianni, owner of Sole Shoes in Westfield, New Jersey, explained to Footwear News that "going into a store is one of the only things [people] can do these days," so she says she often has customers who are just walking downtown and "pop in" for a look around the store.

If you are going to stores right now, Vikram Tarugu, MD, a medical specialist based in Florida, says you need to remember other hygienic practices while shopping to keep yourself safe and avoid letting the coronavirus spread to you or the rest of your household.

According to the CDC, there are several practices you can implement while shopping and running other errands. They recommend using hand sanitizer before you enter the store, and that you avoid "touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands," especially if you're also touching items in the store. And once you get home? Always wash your hands. And for more retail changes to adjust to, You Can No Longer Shop at These Popular Stores Without a Face Mask.

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