Published April 29, 2020
Fashion retail stores worldwide have been heavily impacted by the coronavirus. In a matter of days and weeks, shopping malls and stores had to close as countries went into lockdown—leaving many fashion retailers little time to prepare for closures.
The Guardian estimates there’s over $10B worth of inventory in warehouses. Some brands are shifting to e-commerce, and, to adapt, are using their stores as fulfillment centers in addition to their warehouses. Large UK retailers including Primark, Peacocks, Arcadia and Next have even stopped taking deliveries to their warehouses because they had no more room.
The norm as we know it is different. Shoppers habits are changing. People are spending less money on clothing while staying at home. Retailers are also looking to provide other forms of online shopping, such as social media channels, live video streaming or virtual reality tours to help boost sales.
In the U.S., for example, when many stores started closing, the country was on the tail-end of the winter season. Likely, when stores begin reopening, the country will be in a much warmer climate. Before these stores can open again, retailers will have to revamp their store selections to accommodate inventory that didn’t see the usual sales cycle.
Brands like Neiman Marcus Group, JOANN, Canada Goose, Nike and Hanes are producing non-surgical materials such as masks, gowns and scrubs for medical workers. The medical industry is seeing a shortage of PPE, especially masks, as consumers are racing to get their hands on them as well. To help fill this gap, these retailers are leveraging their supplies and factories to produce these life-saving items.
Beginning April 6, China has seen a re-opening of shopping malls and other businesses, five months after their initial coronavirus outbreak. Return to business has been slow, with only 50% of the usual number of shoppers venturing out. This is even as retailers and mall owners put new policies in place, such as color health codes, temperature checks and frequent disinfection of high traffic areas. According to CGTN, “In Xichunlu Pedestrian Zone, one of Chengdu's most renowned commercial centers, infrared thermometry machines cover nearly every corner so that temperatures of all customers can be monitored at any time.”
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