The New Normal in Retail: The State of Shopping After Lockdown

The retail sector in the country gears up for reopening as COVID-19 lockdown restrictions are starting to get lifted. However, although many stores and shopping centres are preparing to reopen to the public, they are required to ensure a healthy and safe shopping environment and provide their customers with a secure shopping experience. 

As the country approaches the new normal in retail, shoppers can expect the following:


Small businesses will thrive


After being locked down for several months, consumers can finally get to visit major shopping malls as they reopen. However, they may still feel hesitant to head to big stores as they potentially have large crowds, causing them to feel unsafe from the virus.

Consumer behaviours have changed considerably over the past few months. Shoppers tend to opt for small local shops because they make them feel safer. 


Safety precautions will be put into place


Nonessential stores, such as businesses that sell clothes, footwear, homeware, coffee, and more, were urged to close temporarily due to the coronavirus pandemic. As these stores reopen after lockdown, customers are expected to follow safety protocols that are put in place as a COVID-19 response. 

Some of these safety precautions are social distancing regulations, strict store capacity or a limited number of customers inside the store at any one time, and limited services. Alcohols and hand sanitizers will be provided by shops and will be placed at store entrances and throughout shop floors. There will also be markers and visual cues reminding shoppers and workers to observe social distancing. Furthermore, toilets and seating areas will remain closed. Dine-in options at cafes and restaurants will also be limited.  


Contactless mode of payment will be encouraged


Some retailers are getting more cautious as they reopen their stores. Aside from putting safety precautions in place, they are now encouraging their customers to use contactless modes of payments. Doing this will help them minimise the risk of being exposed to the virus.


Browsing experience for shoppers will be minimised


While fashion retailers will reopen, customers are discouraged to randomly touch items on the shelves. Tailoring, fitting, and other services that need close contact between shoppers and workers will also be unavailable. This is a major concern for fashion stores as this will definitely impact the enjoyable browsing experience offered to shoppers. Also, since the fitting is important in fashion, this can cause a serious problem since fitting rooms will remain closed according to the government guidelines. This can discourage customers from purchasing in-store items and motivate them to shop online instead.


A new personal shopper experience will be introduced


To address the lack of fitting rooms in stores, a piece of important retail industry news in the UK worth noting is that Westfield Stratford, the biggest shopping mall in Europe, decided to provide their shoppers with a more tailored, personalised shopping experience. Personal shopper appointments in private fashion lounges will be introduced as their fashion mall opens. This involves having one-to-one appointments with personal stylists to let their customers try on their desired outfits. 


Reopening in retail after lockdown entails major adjustments. While the shopping experience is far from normal, stores continue to introduce new options to keep the shopping experience of their customers safe and hassle-free.

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