Juicy Couture has joined the list of fashion stores that have had to temporarily shut down due to bed bugs. The Fifth Avenue store’s doors have been closed since Tuesday while the store is being exterminated. Doors are scheduled to reopen this week. Juicy Couture is not the first New York City store to be hit by bed bugs. Victoria’s Secret, the Nike Store, Hollister, Abercrombie & Fitch and Bloomingdale’s have also been affected. All of the named stores, with the exception of Bloomingdale’s, closed their doors to clear the infestation before re-opening to customers.
Bed bugs are small, reddish brown, wingless insects with flat bodies that plump when full. Adult bed bugs grow to be between 3/8 and 1/4 inches long. The major concern with bed bugs is that they bite. They seek out warm bodies by following the heat and feed on blood. Additionally, bed bugs hide in cracks, gaps, and piles of clothing.
Bed bugs are becoming a major concern for the fashion industry. Due to the ease with which bed bugs can travel into stores on customers and potentially in shipments, retail stores are highly susceptible to infestation. To prevent bed bugs, it is recommended that stores stay clean and keep piles of clothes folded and neatly placed. Returned merchandise should be maintained separately – perhaps in sealed plastic bags – so that it can be inspected for bed bugs prior to being placed on the showroom floor. Some stores are also steam cleaning merchandise that might be at risk for bed bugs because it was frequently tried on or left in a pile in a dressing room. Retail stores should also train employees to spot bed bugs and the smears that they typically leave behind on fabrics so that remedial measures may be taken if the bugs are discovered. Finally, management may also consider regular, after-hours, inspections throughout the store and its merchandise to prevent a larger infestation. If discovered, professionals should be used to thoroughly clean the store and all merchandise should be inspected before the store reopens.