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Retail Playbook

This playbook is provided for the following types of retail establishments in Greater Des Moines (DSM): bookstores, clothing and shoe stores, jewelry stores, luggage stores, cosmetic, perfume, and beauty supply stores, florists, and furniture and home furnishing stores.

Sample: Clothing Retailer Risk Profile

Retail Risk Profile Frequency

Retail Risk Profile Duration

Retail Risk Profile Variety

The sample risk profile has been determined for clothing retailers in DSM. The profile shows frequency, or how many people in a day; duration, or length of typical interaction; and variety, or the number of different people.*


Current Impact 

Current Impact

Future Trends 

Future Trends

Recommended Practices 

Recommended Practices

Community Partnership 

Community Partnerships

Additional Resources 

Additional Resources

Current Impact

Retail establishments have been a major contributor to DSM's continued success. In congruence with other U.S. states, many Iowa retailers closed their doors on March 26 and remained closed until May 2020. In congruence with other U.S. states, many Iowa retailers closed their doors on March 26 and remained closed until May 2020. With the reopening of the economy, figures from the National Retail Federation show retail sales rose in June, seeing both a monthly increase and their first year-over-year gain since early in the year. Many of the gains came at retailers that were closed during the pandemic — clothing store sales more than doubled. Retail sales, however, are still a long way from normal. The road to recovery for retail will be tenuous and the resurgence of COVID-19 poses a major risk.

Retail Sales Decline

8.7% Decline in Sales

Unused Retail Space

60% of Retail Space Unused

Unemployed Iowans

6,000+ Iowans Unemployed


Future Trends

Retail Distribution

Online Transition

Retailers will need to distribute products digitally and deliver strong virtual experiences. The pandemic forced many consumers to shop online and get accustomed to on-demand virtual shopping. To serve the changing preferences of consumers, retailers should expand their virtual presence or risk losing customers to the virtual marketplace.

Delivery Options

Delivery & Pickup

Customers will expect safe and effective delivery options for physical products through common distribution centers. Restrictions placed on physical stores and the growth of online retail will continue prompting the growth of retail delivery.

Contactless Service

Contactless Service

Contactless and self-serve point of sale equipment will be essential to ensure the safety of employees and customers. Contactless service also allows for a quicker and more efficient customer experience.

Workforce Needs

Changing Workforce Needs

Workforce needs will evolve as customers leverage technology and expect a greater omnichannel experience. To fulfill greater customer demand in the virtual marketplace, retail companies will need to ensure that employees are able to adapt to the changing retail experience.

Retail Partnership

Strategic Partnership Opportunities

To ease the burden of supply chain difficulties and changing customer preferences, companies are looking beyond their internal capabilities. Partnerships will emerge among retailers and like-minded organizations to unlock supply chain synergies, increase customer reach and improve the customer experience.

Recommended Practices

Health & Sanitation

  • Conduct a health screening with all employees before their shifts in accordance with the most up-to-date recommendations from the local public health department.
  • Encourage employees who feel sick to stay home. Employees who have had close contact with someone with COVID-19 should consult CDC guidance on when to self-quarantine.
  • Train all employees on cleaning processes, hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette.
  • Face coverings and other PPE should be worn by employees and customers in accordance with the most up-to-date recommendations from the local public health department.
  • Have hand sanitizer, disinfecting wipes, soap and water or similar disinfectant readily available to employees and customers. Place at entrances and exits, checkout stations and customer changing rooms.
  • Frequently clean and disinfect common surfaces such as point of sale (POS) equipment, entrance/exit doors and checkout lanes along with stock/merchandise.
  • Require employees to comply with guidelines on sanitation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the local public health department.
  • Have hand sanitizer readily available to employees and customers. Place at entrances and exits, checkout stations and customer changing rooms.
  • Clean high touch surfaces and shared objects once a day.
  • You may want to either clean more frequently or choose to disinfect (in addition to cleaning) in shared spaces if certain conditions apply that can increase the risk of infection from touching surfaces:
    • High transmission of COVID-19 in your community
    • Low number of people wearing masks
    • Infrequent hand hygiene
    • The space is occupied by people at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19
  • If there has been a sick person or someone who tested positive for COVID-19 in your facility within the last 24 hours, you should clean AND disinfect the space.
  • Provide sanitizing materials so high-touch surfaces (e.g., POS equipment, pens, cash drawers, break room tables and chairs, door handles) can be wiped down, as needed.

Retail Safety

Process & Space Modification

  • Implement measures to ensure physical distancing of six feet between workers and customers.
  • Stores with higher traffic should consider metering guests and marking spaces six feet apart at the sales registers and outside the entrance.
  • Consider modifying hours to ensure ample time to clean facilities and provide shopping hours for vulnerable guests.
  • Sales registers must be at least six feet apart.
  • Consider rotating the use of equipment to allow for periodic deep cleaning.
  • Protective screens may be installed at the discretion of each store.
  • Encourage customers to make non-cash payments. Receipts should be left on the counter or placed directly in the bag.
  • Provide an adequate number of trash receptacles.
  • Encourage use of a drive-through window or curbside pick-up if available.
  • When possible, encourage customers to use digital channels to make purchases.
  • Consider suspending returns and exchanges, and extend consumers’ ability to do so over a longer period of time.
  • Delivery personnel should refrain from entering facilities and adhere to Iowa Department of Health guidelines upon interaction with employees.
  • While safety is everyone’s responsibility, designate an employee to monitor all safety procedures.

Retail Workspaces


  • Provide reminders to employees and customers to stay at least six feet away from others when in the facility and mark six-foot intervals when possible.
  • Post signage at the door indicating no one should enter the establishment if they currently have symptoms or have been around anyone with a confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis in the last 14 days.
  • Post signage for employees and customers that outline good hygiene and safety measures being taken.
  • Inform employees verbally and in writing of the safety standards and discuss them at employee meetings. 
  • Encourage workers to report any safety and health concerns immediately. 
  • Post updates regularly to employees and customers via websites, newsletters and social media as changes occur.
  • Communication and training should be accessible for people with disabilities, easy to understand, in preferred language(s) spoken or read by the workers and include accurate and timely information.

Retail Communication

Strategic Partnerships

The Great Frame Up Logo

Strategic Partnerships with Other Retailers

COVID-19 is changing consumer behavior. Identifying mutually beneficial partnerships with other brands could improve customer loyalty and revenue. For example, Bozz Prints, a poster and design company, partnered with The Rook Room, a board game pop up, to produce limited edition puzzles featuring the company’s most popular prints.

Five Monkeys Inc Logo

Supporting Essential Workers and Organizations

Consider offering gifts, discounts or proceeds to essential workers, or through their organizations as a way to say “thank you” to these individuals. For example, RAYGUN, a design and clothing store located in Des Moines, released a COVID-19 themed t-shirt and will donate 35% of proceeds back to local organizations representing front-line workers.

Downtown Farmers' Market Logo

Digital Online and Distribution Partnerships

Customers will continue to seek online orders and home delivery for a wide range of goods. Consider partnering with providers who can enable online shopping and digital distribution. For instance, the Downtown Farmers' Market presented by UnityPoint Health offers opportunities for local vendors to sell to area customers in an interactive and virtual setting.

Public Support

Foot traffic from wandering locals and tourists has long been the driving force of sales for Rory Brown and Allspice Culinarium in the Historic East Village near the State Capitol. Sales at the shop are down, but he considers himself lucky and surprised by support from customers through online and pickup orders. Read Rory’s story in the Des Moines Register here.

Additional Resources

Recommended Playbooks

The business function playbooks include takeaways that are specific to professional functions that could be present in any business, regardless of industry.

Finance Button

Human Resources
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Information Technology
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Legal Button

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Sales and Marketing
Sales and Marketing Button

*We note that these assessments are qualitative and based on expert-led judgment (Johns Hopkins, 2020). Currently, there are not enough detailed data available to enable quantitative risk stratification. Businesses will need to make decisions about re-initiating business activities before there are validated data to know the precise levels of risk.

Legal Disclaimer

The Greater Des Moines Partnership's DSM Forward playbook is not intended to constitute legal advice or provide specific direction. The preparation of a business continuity or preparations plan should be undertaken with the advice and direction of appropriate specialists and personnel, in consideration of the unique circumstances impacting each business. Third-party websites or material linked to or referenced in DSM Forward are for informational purposes only and do not constitute a recommendation of The Partnership of that material or its authors.

Last updated: 5/18/2021