From sanitizing customers’ hands at the entrance to keenly observing what the customer has touched and removing items that are not going to be bought for decontamination, retailers in malls are taking all steps to ensure that items on display don’t turn into fomites that carry the novel coronavirus. And the stores are using various technologies to destroy the virus.
At Forum mall that opened for business on Friday, several apparel retail stores, like Anokhi, Toffi House, Cotton World and Label Life, have converted one of their trial rooms into ultra-violet chambers where clothes can be sterilized. Some other shops, like home accessories store India Circus and jewellery stores Amrapali and Tribe, have installed UV chambers or boxes to disinfect home decor items and jewellery.
“We did not want to discourage customers from trying out clothes or jewellery. Yet, we recognize the need to disinfect the items that are touched so that there is no transmission of the virus by an asymptomatic carrier. We felt the best option was to use UV light to sterilize the products,” said Forum mall vice-president (retail division) Pragna Johar.
The chemical-free multi-focal UV light exposure covers the surface of the items and destroys pathogens. But care is required while operating UV equipment as exposure to the radiation can cause skin irritation and damage to eyes.
At Quest, the mall is using a very different technology to destroy the virus — a colourless, odourless, non-leaching liquid called Zoono. “The liquid sprayed does not contain harmful chemicals. When applied to a surface by spraying, wiping or fogging, it leaves behind a mono-molecular layer that permanently bonds to the surface. These molecules are antimicrobial, silane-based polymers that form a barrier of positively charged microscopic pins. These attract and pierce negatively charged pathogens. The pins rupture the cell walls and causes the pathogen to break up with lethal effect,” said Quest mall vice-president Sanjeev Mehra.
Stores at Quest, as well as South City and the two City Centres, are using various other means to disinfect products and apparel. Brands like Levi’s, Lee, Wrangler and Allen Solly are sanitizing the apparel with steam iron while jewellery stores are using gold-cleaning liquid. Sanitizers are being used to clean footwear and other articles.
“Unlike the larger stores that can afford UV chambers, many brands that occupy smaller stores cannot block the space and are using other means to make the merchandise safe,” pointed out Ramesh Pandey, wholetime director of Ambuja group that owns and operates City Centre I and City Centre II.
The clothes that are tried are set aside in quarantine boxes so that the virus perishes naturally. They are then steam ironed and put on display.
The malls also have several apparel retailers who don’t want their trial rooms used and are encouraging customers to try out the clothes at home. Lifestyle has introduced a 90-day return policy. “We don’t want to rush our customers. They can try out the apparel and return it to us within 90 days,” an official said.
At Acropolis mall, all apparel retailers have agreed to a no-trial-room policy. “Trial rooms lead to queues and require to be sanitized each time they are used. We felt trying out the clothes at home was the best option,” said Acropolis mall general manager K Vijayan.
Source:Times of India