“Sorry Ma’am, the dress in the size you want is still in quarantine”. 

When it comes to clothes shopping, nothing can replace the in-person experience of trying on items in the changing room. But are fitting rooms safe in the midst of this pandemic?

Retailers are adopting various safety measures to make shoppers feel safe in-store from providing hand sanitiser to limiting the number of people in-store; steaming/disinfecting every garment which has been tried by customers. Some are even quarantining clothes for 24 hours after being tried on before they go back on the shop floor. But how about the health & safety measures in the rest of the Mall? From the moment we arrived at the main hall, using the restrooms or parent rooms, holding on the escalators, pressing buttons in the lifts, having food and beverages at the common food halls, or in the restaurants?

How safe is the air we breathe during the shopping trip? Last month 239 scientists from 32 countries signed an open letter to the World Health Organisation (WHO), calling for a new set of safety recommendations in the light of evidence that the virus can travel farther and remain suspended in the air for longer, The New York Times (NYT) reported.

Maybe, it is time to channel online clothes shopping, especially for a brand we already wear since we should have a good sense of their size, and a realistic expectation of fabric and finish will be.

A few high street brands already have an online fit tool based on height, weight, and body shape to recommend the size, so far (personally) the success rate hasn’t worked out well. Last year, there were a few articles about Amazon app that can ‘data mine’ photos from your phone to create a bespoke virtual mannequin that represents your body shape, which can then ‘try on’ clothes.

So, with more and more retailers are trying to re-create the in-store experience while avoiding interaction, some of us might feel comfortable in exposing our valuable personal and biometric data. However, biometrics are not immune to attack and theft, hence exposure to potential security and privacy risks of biometric authentication.

As with everything, there are risks involved. If we want to be 100 per cent safe, stay home, and keep our personal data safe. But if you think it's okay to indulge in some physical retail therapy while taking every necessary precaution, which measures are good enough for you, and can you trust those measures have been verified? Stay safe as we venture out.