NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) - In the next few weeks, retail workers are going to be preparing for the holiday rush in a new way: by going through special training on how to promote mask wearing and social distancing with large crowds.

Holiday shopping will look different this year as people will most likely be required to wear masks and be forced to space apart in checkout lines. But with millions of people waiting until the last minute to buy gifts, and the stress that many have been dealing with since March, it’s likely that tensions will be running high.

Employees at stores all over the country will be required to take an online course on how to deescalate situations and arguments that may come about between customers. This course is 70 minutes and gives real life examples of situations that have already happened or could happen over the next few months.

Adam Lukoskie, the Vice President of the National Retail Federation Foundation explains what some of those videos will look like. “The first is an employee asking a customer to wear a mask in the store and that customer isn’t a fan of wearing a mask, so that employee has to work with the customer to make sure they wear a mask and are not angry,” Lukoskie said. “And the second scenario they watch is a mother with a child. Both of them are wearing masks and they’re uncomfortable that another customer isn’t wearing one. And that mother confronts the customer. And the employee has to come in and solve that problem.”

The National Retail Federation Foundation is behind the move and has partnered with a crisis prevention institute to ensure shopper’s health and well being will be protected this holiday season.

“The other great thing about this is that the training itself is on “conflict deescalation” so the skills that they learn aren’t just specific to a COVID era. They will be able to use this for years to come,” explains Lukoskie.

Another thing you’ll see more of lately are sales starting earlier. This is to promote social distancing and create a safer experience. Experts said you’ll see those Black Friday savings as early as the start of next month and they’re expected to run through most of December, in stores and online.

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Meteorologist / Reporter

Melanie Layden is the weekend morning meteorologist at WSMV. She also has a segment during the week called "Growing Nashville" where she covers the growth of Music City. Melanie has been Working 4 You since 2014.

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