Is In-Person Retail Back?
Some stores are open again, but some are still relying on digital sales to stay afloat
When the coronavirus pandemic starting hitting major cities across the United States in March, something that no one ever expected to see happened: bustling cities, popular shops, and busiest intersections completely shut down. Even New York City looked like a ghost town.
At a time when up-and-coming brands were weaving themselves into the Main Street shopping scene in a whole new way, the whole system went to sleep. Four months ago, popular luggage brand Away penned a letter explaining that sales had decreased by over 90 percent, as they had closed their retail stores quickly. (Although they’ve since reopened.)
Back in March, I wrote an article about some of the brands that had closed, sporting events that were cancelled, and new technologies that were gaining speed. In some areas of the country, it seems like those conditions are still present. The closing and opening of shops has often been correlated with the severity of the disease in their respective areas; especially Apple, whose global presence (with China making up 17 percent of 2019 revenues) allowed it to understand how the virus affected regions before entering the U.S.
Experiential stores struggle
One of the biggest draws to many rising brands’ stores is the novel experience they’re able to offer. On Friday, Glossier announced that it would not be reopening stores this year, and potentially at all through the pandemic.
Apple has also had to re-close many of its stores in several states. 9to5Mac published a helpful guide with an interactive map, showing states like California and Florida with heavily-concentrated closings. Its online stores have suffered from delays because of several factors like supply-chain constraints and increased demand of products like the new iPad Pro.
Updates on Everlane, UNIQLO, and Rothy’s
Everlane has started to reopen stores at a limited capacity, saying “We’re prioritizing the health and safety of our community by increasing sanitation throughout our stores, implementing contactless checkout, and providing our team with masks and hand-washing breaks.” Additionally, UNIQLO and Rothy’s have started welcoming guests in-person again.
Reopening costs are very high, with expectations for deep cleanings, personal protective equipment, and fewer customers at a time. But, staying closes is even more costly for many brands.