Post-Pandemic Shopping Experience

By now, you’re used to the plexiglass fencing at the grocery checkout counter. The neon tape on the pharmacy floor telling you where to stand while you wait for your check has become a common sight. And you know the closest thing to a nightclub is following the one-on-one rule as you line up at the hardware store.

These types of stores have been deemed necessary by the authorities leading the pandemic. But now shopping malls are starting to reopen. Retailers are planning to let shoppers view the aisles instead of being limited to online shopping.

What will it be like to shop in the world after the pandemic? (Or is the world still in the middle of a pandemic?) To find out, I spoke with consumer expert Lisa Lee Freeman and retail consultant and author of Wonderful Retail , Steve Dennis.

Here’s what you can expect when you’re ready to return to stores again.

The rules will be different

Be prepared for clearer cash register barriers and directional floor decals.

“A lot of the changes will persist,” Freeman said. “We will continue to see the stores limit the number of people, so the lines will continue.”

Once you get to the front of the line, don’t be surprised if your favorite store has a smaller layout than you’re used to. Dennis explained that the compact shopping area allows employees to keep up with disinfection efforts.

But don’t expect tons of staff to show up in between cleaning rounds to help you, Freeman noted. Just as stores are likely to reopen in stages, they will also be bringing back their employees in small groups.

Customer service will vary

By the way, about the employees. The way you interact with store employees is about to change.

Best Buy has begun reopening stores on an appointment-only basis — when you arrive at the scheduled time, you have a dedicated sales representative to assist you from a safe distance, ”CEO Corey Barry explained on the Today Show .

Meanwhile, stores such as Foot Locker, Kohl’s and Old Navy plan to keep fitting rooms closed when their stores reopen this month.

This means that the level of service you will receive from store employees will vary widely from network to network. You may get one-to-one help after waiting in line at the entrance (a nightmare for people who like to shop on their own), or you may not get much help from a partner at all.

“There is a real surge in in-order purchases expected,” Dennis said, but he expects that will depend on the type of retailer. “There are many stores [categories] that people want to wander through,” he said.

Freeman pointed out that stores offering in-store styling or refurbishment services most likely won’t offer these perks, so be prepared for a limited experience if you plan on visiting stores like Nordstrom or Sephora that usually allow you to fit. close and personal.

The curb pickup isn’t going anywhere … sort of

Retailers go out of their way to shop in a way that makes you feel comfortable, offering in-store pickup for online orders, curbside service, or free shipping. This diversity is unlikely to disappear after store openings, although some services may end in a few months, our experts agreed.

While services like BOPIS (ie, Buy Online, In-Store Pickup) are not new, retailers are using and promoting them more than ever. But in the long term, offering such housing may not be profitable for all types of retailers, – explained Dennis. So, while a major store closest to you will likely allow you to mix and match your ordering style, a smaller chain may stop providing these convenient services after a few months.

The sales will be big and strange

The beginning of summer is usually a great time to find discounts on spring merchandise. That will be true this year, but Dennis warned that not all product categories will receive the same discounts.

While you won’t see dramatic fluctuations in the prices of groceries and household items (since these stores were mostly open during the pandemic), you will see big discounts on clearly seasonal categories. Think of all the spring break that comes with buying new clothes, Dennis said: Graduations, church days like Easter, and prom are all basically canceled.

“If you need a dress for parties, you will probably see 80-90% off,” Dennis said. But jeans or clothes for work from home? Not so much.

Dennis advised shoppers not to expect huge discounts the moment retailers reopen, as they will likely wait to see how many items they can move before handing out discounts. June is probably the best time to save money, he said.

But by that time, we’ll probably see a different type of sale: liquidation. “I don’t think all sales will be happy,” Freeman said, noting that some big names such as Lord & Taylor have already announced plans to liquidate.

“Unfortunately, we’re going to see a lot of retailers failing to get through this,” Dennis said. “Get used to saying goodbye.”

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