Retailers across the country have their eyes on Georgia, as it’s one of the first states to start reopening non-essential businesses. On Friday, April 24, Republican Gov. Brian Kemp gave salons, gyms and tattoo parlors the permission to reopen their doors. On Monday, April 27, movie theaters and restaurants followed.
As Georgia slowly starts to re-open businesses, the retail industry in particular will be monitoring the public’s reaction. Will consumers come back to brick and mortar stores to shop, or will their buying behaviors be permanently modified?
Out-Of-State Travelers Flock to Georgia
Non-essential businesses and retail stores have been closed for a month or longer, causing many citizens to be eager to resume “normal” life. Within a week of Georgia allowing hair salons, gyms, dine-in restaurants and other non-essential businesses to re-open, “an additional 62,440 visitors arrived there daily, most from surrounding states where such businesses remained shuttered, according to an analysis of smartphone location data,” The Washington Post reported.
According to The Washington Post, within a week of Georgia businesses re-opening on April 24, on average, 546,159 people traveled to Georgia from other states, with the vast majority of the travelers coming from Alabama, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Florida. The data from the trips came from location data in the traveler’s smartphone apps.
At the time, three of the four adjacent states listed above had started letting “nonessential” retail stores to open, and only Tennessee had begun letting gyms and sit-down restaurants re-open. Georgia, however, was the only state permitting gyms, hair salons, barbershops, entertainment venues (movie theaters and bowling alleys), and dine-in restaurants to re-open. Experts believe that people are traveling to Georgia for things they can’t do, or for businesses that aren’t open in their own state.
Safety Protocols for Customers
As Georgia businesses re-open, it’s important that citizens continue practicing safety protocols to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19). Here’s what you can do as a customer to protect everyone’s health and safety during the pandemic:
- Do not visit public places if you have a fever, cough, shortness of breath, a sore throat, or headache – as these may be signs of COVID-19. Instead, contact your doctor and follow their directions.
- Consider wearing a non-medical grade face mask while you’re out.
- At movie theaters, continue social distancing by keeping at least 6 feet between you and other individuals who are not seeing the movie with you.
- Wash or disinfect your hands before entering a business, restaurant, or movie theater.
- Wash or sanitize your hands after you’ve completed the payment process.
- Remember that people age 65 and older are more vulnerable. If possible, always try to stay at least 6 feet away from individuals, especially those who are 65 and older.
- If you’re 65 or older, try to stay home if at all possible.