By Kerry Needs   |  
June 23rd, 2020

Key retail reopening trends in a post-COVID-19 world

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Since COVID-19 struck the global retail sector in March 2020, the industry has been left reeling in the wake of a significant shift. Safety is now the #1 priority for every company in the world, and the seismic shift has forced businesses to quickly re-evaluate their priorities.

Regardless of what sector they are in, retailers who will succeed post-COVID-19 are the ones that are able to quickly establish and consistently maintain trust with their customer base. Retailers must adapt, work together, or risk industry-wide shutdowns.

As retailers reopen, companies have to be incredibly flexible; making the shift away from traditional retail methods and moving towards a world of eCommerce, social distancing, and stringent hygiene measures. The question customers are asking is no longer ‘do I need it?’ or ‘can I afford it?’ It is now, ‘is this company safe?’

Now, as retailers consider how to get back to selling, we’ve put together a list of comprehensive resources with trends and insights to help you make safety your edge.

How has the retail industry been affected by COVID-19?

Across the world, brick and mortar shops have been forced to cease trading. Some are temporarily closed; others are assessing their ability to source relevant personal protective equipment (PPE) as and when reopening measures are introduced.

Physical shopping is hindered

Clothing giant Primark (UK and US-based) has gone from making over $800 million sales a month (£650 million/1,190,000AUD to nothing since the COVID-19 forced closures of its stores.

Retail sales in Australia fell by a record 17.9% in April, at the height of the lockdown. US retail sales also dipped sharply by 16.4%. The effects of COVID-19 have contributed to a record monthly fall in retail sales of nearly a fifth,” ONS deputy national statistician for economic statistics.

As incomes dip, community, wellbeing and family takes the spotlight

The economic impact of the pandemic that has tipped the world into recession means that many are focused on spending to meet their needs, rather than their desires.

The world has seen people lose jobs, and incomes being slashed. For those that have been luckier, job stability is a real concern. People are not spending money anymore — at least, not on anything that isn’t deemed “essential”. Instead, consumers have a renewed focus on health and wellbeing, family time, and intentional living.

Supply chains in chaos

The lockdown didn’t just affect the retail industry. It affected industries across the board, including manufacturing and logistics. With many factories shutting down to prevent the spread of the virus, this created a knock-on effect as demand for retail goods soared, but supply was dwindling because of the unreliable supply chains.

The way forward for retailers

Government restrictions around the world have forced consumers to remain at home, accelerating existing trends toward online retail. As consumers alternated between watching Netflix and shopping online, an avalanche of consumption began.

Ecommerce businesses have experienced unprecedented levels of demand, with many reporting 200-300% sales growth year on year.

Traditional retail companies have also adapted their business models to capitalize on this new opportunity. Disruption is affecting every industry, from online car sales to bake at home restaurant products.

As physical businesses reopen, retailers will likely continue to invest in eCommerce to reach more customers, support those who are still wary of congregating in public spaces, and use it as a way to complement an omnichannel shopping experience.

Hygiene is paramount

When it comes to re-opening a physical store, strict and frequent cleaning regimes must be in place, alongside safety protocols for both employees and shoppers. Here are some tactics retailers can use to encourage a more hygienic environment.

  • Installing hand sanitizer dispensers throughout the store, particularly at entry points.
  • Providing PPE like gloves and masks to staff and customers, particularly for retailers where customers may come in close contact with staff for extended periods of time — think salons or optical shops. Additional PPE like face shields can be given to customers who have to try on clothes in a changing room.
  • Adding clear protective screens to separate cashiers and customers safely.
  • Locking items behind glass cabinets can give retailers the opportunity to give customers more personal service, protect theft, and help staff keep track of goods that have been handled by customers.
  • Removing excess stock from the shop floor and shelves, instead, the only stock available will be “display only”. Customers can request the right stock to try or test, much like how a shoe shop might operate.
  • Encouraging cashless purchases

Spread out with social distancing

Social distancing requirements have presented unique challenges for retailers. It’s changing the way we shop. Customers are beginning to get used to queuing outside on top of social distancing floor markers to enter a shop, being greeted by a people counter when entering a shop, and exiting via a different entrance.

There is still work to be done for retailers to encourage this behavior.
Floor markers will need to be installed, posters communicating
the maximum capacity inside the shop at any time, boarding up excess doorways, and adding a new rotation for staff — “door duty”.

Use these resources to get safely back to work in retail stores

Return safely back to work using these free checklists to help you develop and stick to new processes:

For more about how retailers can get safely back to businesses and keep customers safe in a post-COVID-19 world, read SafetyCulture’s new comprehensive report for retailers.

Important Notice
The information contained in this article is general in nature and you should consider whether the information is appropriate to your specific needs. Legal and other matters referred to in this article are based on our interpretation of laws existing at the time and should not be relied on in place of professional advice. We are not responsible for the content of any site owned by a third party that may be linked to this article. SafetyCulture disclaims all liability (except for any liability which by law cannot be excluded) for any error, inaccuracy, or omission from the information contained in this article, any site linked to this article, and any loss or damage suffered by any person directly or indirectly through relying on this information.

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