Protect your small retail business during the coronavirus outbreak

For information about how the coronoavirus outbreak affects your Wish orders, see our FAQs

The coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak continues to spread and the World Health Organization (WHO) is recommending that people practice “social distancing” for at least two weeks. This means fewer outings, avoiding crowded spaces, and telecommuting when possible. Unfortunately, foot traffic is the lifeblood of local storefronts, and the current crisis is affecting retail businesses globally. Public caution is not the only source of slow business. Retail stores are also dealing with supply-chain backups and workers out sick. 

There are reasons to remain positive. This week, New York City announced a financial relief program that offers interest-free loans of up to $75,000 to small businesses who can prove a 25% reduction in customer receipts. Other cities, like Seattle, are considering similar measures. In the meantime, here are some ways you and your retail business can ride out this tough season and bounce back quickly. 

Put public health first

Shoppers are more concerned than ever when it comes to the cleanliness of the surfaces they touch. Put customers at ease by increasing your sterilization efforts. Cafes, bodegas, and other small businesses are soothing customer fears by posting signs that detail their store’s cleaning efforts and schedule. If possible, provide hand sanitizer at your point of sale, and make sure your restrooms are well-stocked with soap and paper towels. 

Protect your workers

Less than half of the American retail workforce has paid sick leave. This means there are thousands of workers who must choose between coming in sick or losing their job. During this critical time, let your staff know that their health and safety is your top priority. Even if you cannot afford paid sick time for all employees, assure your staff that they will not be retaliated against for staying home with symptoms. American hourly workers should keep their eyes on the news. A coronavirus economic package is in progress, and those who have lost wages due to illness may be eligible for benefits.

Have what your customers need

As shoppers plan their extended periods of home quarantine, they’re stocking up on emergency supplies. Wish Local has sent fresh batches of Consumer Packaged Goods (CPGs) to many participating stores. Products sent include first aid kits, hand sanitizer, and toilet paper. Make sure your business hours are updated with Wish Local so your local customers know when they can secure these items through Pickup Now. Read more about CPGs here.

Create an online presence for your business

As people are staying at home, they’re going online to find what they need. If your business doesn’t have an online presence, now is the time to set it up. Make sure your retail store has a profile on all social media channels, and that you respond promptly to customer inquiries. Some businesses are temporarily delivering food and merchandise when they hadn’t before. In San Francisco, there’s a trend for businesses to waive shipping fees for local addresses. 


The COVID-19 outbreak has the potential to trigger economic hardship in small retail businesses. However, taking steps to help contain the spread of the virus and adapting your business to meet the needs of the public is your best bet for protection. Stay calm, protect your health, and you’ll come back from these challenging times stronger than ever.