I Went to TJ Maxx & Marshalls for the First Time Since COVID-19 — Here’s What Happened
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As states begin to loosen restrictions and retail stores open their doors again, TJ Maxx and Marshalls are among the shoe and clothing sellers that are attracting a large crowd.
Since May 2, parent company TJX Companies has opened the doors of TJ Maxx and Marshalls to states and locations where home order orders have been canceled. Like many of their off-price counterparts, whose "thrill of hunting" services were difficult to reproduce online, discounters were greatly missed by enthusiastic shoppers during the pandemic's high point, and their reopening has caused quite a bit of frenzy as a result. In photos posted on Twitter, a TJ Maxx store in Arkansas seemed full of shoppers last month, and in a Wilkes-Barre, Penn. More than 100 people were lined up for reopening this month.
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In May, Connecticut (where I currently reside due to the COVID 19 outbreak) took its first step in reopening its economy by returning customers to restaurants, shops, and malls. For the first time in over two months, I decided to see for myself what shopping in Marshalls and TJ Maxx looks like again.
Like most retailers, TJ Maxx and Marshalls have introduced enhanced security measures, noting employee logs such as the need to use face masks while at work and the implementation of social distancing work practices. Protective shields have been attached to the cash registers and social distance markers are used to clear out lines. There are also new rules for processing returns and improved in-store cleaning. In an email to FN last month, TJ Maxx announced that occupancy restrictions had also been introduced in its stores.
And when I went to the local outposts last weekend, it seemed that TJ Maxx and Marshalls were true to their word.
I equipped myself with my mask and visited both locations on the Silas Deane Highway in Wethersfield, Connecticut. At TJ Maxx, a sign outside greeted customers saying that occupancy would be limited to 105 buyers in the store. Across the street in Marshalls, about 20 people lined up outside when an employee checked pedestrian traffic into the store so that customers couldn't get past each other when leaving and entering. The goal was to keep the occupancy at around 130 people, she said.
In both stores, more retail workers were waiting with disinfectant wipes to clean the carts between buyers. The Marshalls, which is also a homegoods store, is larger than TJ Maxx, so there was more choice. For the spring, however, the range of shoes was noticeably missing. Mostly, athletic sneakers were on display, while some women's flat sandals were strewn around. TJ Maxx also had a heavy sneaker area with goods from Converse, Skechers, New Balance, Under Armor and Fila.
After speaking to a Marshalls sales representative, I learned that the warehouse was secured, so the location had just received its first delivery this week. She said spring and summer products are starting to fill the store.
Many items appeared to be left over from February and March, with sweaters and jeans. For example, there was still a “Wear to Work” section on the floor. Still, summer maxi dresses filled some shelves with picks from common suspects like Tommy Hilfiger, Tahari and Max Studio. But TJ Maxx and Marshalls also lacked other summer items such as swimwear and jeans shorts.
In addition, each location achieved large sales figures in all categories. TJ Maxx also had large empty tables with signs that said, “Forgive us for showing up. Fresh new product is coming soon! "
Despite personal disappointment with the offer of the shops, security was on the same level. I didn't feel uncomfortable shopping in either location.
In both Marshalls and TJ Maxx there were one-way streets labeled with arrows, signs filled the floors to promote a social distance of two meters, changing rooms are temporarily closed and partitions were installed at the checkout. After shopping at Marshalls, the cashier immediately wiped off her station when I left.
Most have new working hours that also coincide with security measures, with the majority working from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday to Saturday and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Sunday - presumably additional time for renovation efforts.
The retailer expects it to be "largely reopened" by the end of June.
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