Tens of thousands of stores across the country have temporarily closed their doors to customers, either by choice or by law, in order to help combat the spread of the current COVID-19 pandemic. And, it’s not the best picture right now for retailers, with struggling brands expected to never recover from the hit. eCommerce sales are booming, but experts are skeptical that the rise in online shopping is going to be enough to make up for the sales lost as a result of the store closures.
While the lockdown is not expected to last forever, retailers can expect things to be different once they reopen. With a vaccine for the coronavirus not expected to be available until sometime next year, stores are likely to reopen with the virus still somewhat circulating the population, or with a real threat of it returning. So, what can you expect for your retail business when you reopen your doors to the public?
With stores expected to open before a vaccine for the coronavirus is available, people are unlikely to be taking as many shopping trips as before. Many people are prepared to stay in lockdown long after it is lifted until a vaccine is available due to concern for their health, and may not feel comfortable going out to shop for non-essential items. And, the economic impact of the pandemic means that customers might not be in a financial position to return to their usual retail therapy habits for a while after the lockdown has been lifted.
More Online Shopping
With lockdown closing stores and more customers turning to online shopping to get the items that they want, this is a trend that can be expected to continue even after physical locations have been reopened to the public. Shoppers are realizing the convenience and usefulness of online shopping more than ever before, and new consumer habits are being formed that are likely to continue. Even after reopening physical locations, retail stores should be prepared to continue dealing with higher levels of eCommerce demand.
With vaccines unlikely to be ready until next year, social distancing measures are expected to stay in place until at least the end of 2020, even after it’s safe to reopen retail stores to the public once again. Because of this, it’s important to prepare your physical locations for the impact of social distancing. This might require the installation of floor stickers and signs to keep customers apart from staff and one another and extra staff members to man the doors and control the flow of customers into the store at any given time.
Finally, customers are undoubtedly anxious about the virus and while many will avoid non-essential shopping until a vaccine is available, others will want to get their retail therapy fixed, but with the assurance that the brand is doing everything possible to protect their health and wellbeing in store. You can expect to see more customers staying safe by shopping in a face mask and gloves long after the lockdown has been lifted, and may want to consider the option of offering face masks to customers and setting up hand sanitizing stations at the doors and throughout the store for customers to use. Some supermarkets are currently offering stations providing disinfectant sprays and wipes that customers can use to clean their carts and baskets before shopping; a measure that many retail stores might consider implementing once they reopen.
When stores reopen to the public after lockdown, things are going to be different. Customers might not be as eager to shop as they once were and safety measures will need to be a top priority.