Macy’s plans to reopen all of its 775 stores within six weeks, beginning with 68 stores that were scheduled to open their doors on Monday this week.
The stores are in Georgia, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas, all of which have relaxed lockdown orders and will be open only from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
The pace of reopening will be matched to the rate at which virus infection rates decline, said Jeff Gennette, Macy’s CEO.
The new retail experience will be closely regimented.
Under the rules of the “New ABnormal,” consultations at beauty counters will be no-touch, with samples applied to paper rather than to customers’ skin. Shoppers will be required to use hand sanitizer before trying on watches or jewelry.
Only a few fitting rooms will be open at a time, with employees cleaning them frequently. Clothes that customers have tried on will be set aside for 24 hours before being put back on display.
TRENDPOST: Decisions on what to do and how to do it in the “New ABnormal” world are clearly invented without providing any scientific data to support decisions. For example, holding clothes customers tried on for 24 hours? What data was provided that 24 hours, 48 hours… or whenever makes any practical sense?
Moreover, do different fabrics mean different times? Again, as we keep noting, the “New ABnormal” is being sold as a “New Normal” by abnormal freaks who invent them.
Closed on One Side, Open on The Other
The now-familiar plexiglass partitions will separate clerks and customers at checkout stations. Keypads customers use to enter their plastic card PINs are to be sanitized after each use. Signs throughout the stores will urge patrons to stay six feet away from each other.
Employees will be masked and must complete a health checklist when they arrive for work. Those that clean fitting rooms and handle returns will wear gloves.
Macy’s expects the newly reopened stores to initially do about 20 percent of the business they have done in the past, Gennette said.
Appliance chain Best Buy will reopen this month. Courtesy of Best Buy, here is their “New ABnormal”:
“The process for an in-store consultation is meant to be easy to follow and safe for customers and employees. Here’s how it works:
- Create an appointment: Customers can schedule appointments by phone, online, through the Best Buy app or via live chat.
- Confirmation and pre-call: Customers will get confirmation of their visit, along with reminders via text and email. An employee will call the customer before their visit to go over the process, explain safety measures and get more information about their shopping needs.
- Entering the store: When it’s time for the appointment to start, the customer will be notified to go to the store entrance and check in. A host will go over the consultation and safety process and introduce the customer to their Blue Shirt or Agent. Hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes for shopping carts will be available, and employees will wear face coverings and gloves.
- Shopping: The customer and Blue Shirt or Agent will shop together, following social distancing and safety guidelines. Signs and floor stickers will provide navigation and guidance on safety. For product demos, the employee will wipe the product, let the customer handle it and then wipe it down when the customer is done. Employees will clean surfaces as needed throughout the appointment.
- Completing the Sale: When a customer decides to buy an item, they will be taken to the front registers, where distancing guidelines will be followed and there will be sneeze guards. If using a credit card, the machine and screen will be wiped before and after each use.
- Leaving the store: When the purchase is finished, an employee will escort the customer out of the store.”
Costco has become the first major chain to require everyone entering its stores to wear face masks. Children under age two need not comply, as do those with medical conditions that make wearing a mask difficult.
TREND FORECAST: Macy’s, in addition to many retailers, were suffering weak sales performance long before the COVID crisis struck. A COVID-Frightened Society, who sharply increased online purchases when most stores were shut down, will not be returning en mass to mall or big retail outlets.
Moreover, with new stores initially expected to do only 20 percent of previous business, at best, big retailers (and small) may be able to pay their rent while losing billions.
Malls, Restaurants Reopen: Are We Having Fun Yet?
Simon Property Group, the U.S.’s largest mall owner, opened 49 malls in ten states last week.
Security officers and store employees are reminding shoppers about social distancing and not to shop in groups. In food courts, tables are spaced far apart, and reusable trays are gone. Drinking fountains and children’s play areas are closed off. In restrooms, every other sink and urinal is taped over to prevent use.
The Simon Group is encouraging store clerks to have their temperature taken on arrival at work, not to touch customers’ credit cards, and to wash their hands after each transaction.
Masked mall employees offer free masks, sanitizing wipes, and temperature checks to shoppers and encourage mall patrons to wear masks and wash their hands often.
Public address systems regularly remind shoppers of their responsibilities in protecting public health.
Clothing chains Banana Republic, Gap, and Old Navy are tenants in several of the malls but had no plans to reopen their stores over the weekend.
A few eateries in Alaska, Georgia, and Tennessee have reopened their doors to customers. But “casual dining” is a thing of the past.
Georgia’s governor Brian Kemp has issued 39 health-related requirements that restaurants must follow when they reopen, including mandating all employees wear face masks and allowing no more than ten customers in every 500 square feet of dining space.
In one restaurant, employees’ temperatures are taken when they come to work and posted on a whiteboard customers can see.
In Alaska, restaurants must keep a record of diners’ names and phone numbers for 30 days in case their contacts need to be traced. Only members of the same household are allowed to sit together.
Louisiana’s restaurants can now seat people but only outside and without servers coming to their tables.
Starbuck’s, which closed only about half its U.S. stores, plans to have more than 90 percent open by early June, but with no interior seating. A limited number of customers will be allowed inside at any one time for grab-and-go orders; masked and gloved baristas also will hand out orders through the door.
Starbucks estimates it lost $915 million in business during 2020’s first quarter and expects worse in the second three months. But, it says, its’ revenues in China have rebounded to nearly normal levels.
A barbeque joint in Tennessee is checking patrons’ temperatures with an infrared thermometer gun when customers come in the door.
“Every customer who’s come in has thanked us for being open,” said one restaurant manager, “but, unfortunately, [business] has been really slow.”
TREND FORECAST: Cabin fever and pent-up demand for anything smacking of the “old” normal will drive people to shops and restaurants as places reopen.
Obsessed, however, with lingering health concerns, stores and eateries will maintain the “New ABnormal” by cleaning up and sanitizing around patrons as they shop and eat for the foreseeable future.
When an outing resembles a visit to Chernobyl or an Ebola ward, the public’s initial enthusiasm to wine, dine, and shop will ebb.
Boredom will still lure people to malls and cafes, but not in the numbers many businesses need to pay staff and overhead, let alone to make a profit or stay in business. Thus, there will be a sharp rise in bankruptcies.
After reopening in the “New ABnormal,” many restaurants are likely to close again, perhaps permanently, after discovering the realities of trying to do business in an era of strict pandemic paranoia rules of behavior.