When should non-essential retail stores reopen?
A new survey from Morning Consult finds 24 percent of U.S. consumers do not expect to feel comfortable going back to a shopping mall for at least six months. Another 26 percent were not sure when they would feel comfortable, or offered no opinion.
Half of the respondents in the survey taken from April 7 to 9 said they would be comfortable heading back in three months, including nine percent within a month and 16 percent within two months.
Another survey from First Insight, fielded on April 3, found 60 percent of U.S. consumers feel that stores should reopen by the end of May.
The surveys come amid some hopeful signals that coronavirus infections may be plateauing in hot spots like New York. Government officials are also weighing the public safety versus economic risks of relaxing social distancing guidelines.
First Insight’s survey found 87 percent of consumers now saying they are worried about the coronavirus, up from 71 percent in the last survey in mid-March.
“We may still have a way to go,” said Greg Petro, CEO of First Insight, in statement. “That said, it is important that retailers and brands continue planning by ensuring they have the right product and price when the time comes.”
Without a vaccine or understanding of how many people are immune due to a lack of testing, social distancing calls will remain. Many non-essential retailers will have to decide to what degree they will reopen. When they do so, many will add safety measures currently found in grocery stores, including restricted entry, one-way aisles and plexiglass barriers for cashiers.
Many states and cities are requiring customers to wear masks while shopping in accordance with CDC recommendations. LaBonne’s Markets, a family-owned grocery chain in Connecticut, last week began taking customers’ temperatures.
Retailers also have to consider whether it’s worth it to reopen.
H&M’s slow traffic recovery in China since reopening stores was a sign to Honor Strachan, analyst at GlobalData, that shoppers will return apprehensively in other regions, as well. Mr. Strachan wrote in a note, “Understandably retailers will be keen to reopen stores to clear seasonal stock and recover lost revenue, but the impact to profitability by opening these stores too early could be severe.”
- When Consumers Say They’ll Feel OK About Dining Out and Other Activities – Morning Consult
- New Study: Majority of Americans Believe Stores Should Reopen by End of May, 2020 – First Insight/Business Wire
- Even once Covid-19 is under control, stores may think twice about reopening right away – Quartz
- LaBonne’s Markets to Take Customers’ Temperatures – NBC Connecticut
- Why stores could start taking customers’ temperatures – CNN
- H&M’s recovery in China paints a bleak picture for retailers – 365Retail
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: What factors should determine when non-essential stores reopen for business? What changes, if any, do you expect to see in these locations when they finally reopen?