In this time of economic upheaval, the 2020 pandemic has significantly impacted retail stores. Many retail stores and small businesses had already been slowly declining in sales due to the growth of online shopping. For the past several years, thousands of stores have closed their doors. This includes the record breaking 9,500 stores that closed during 2019. However, the COVID-19 economic crisis has hastened the closure of many stores this past spring by pushing them into bankruptcy or severely lowering their sale rates. With recent reports circulating about the situation concerning store closures, we can expect even more retailers to close in the coming months. The upcoming holiday season will be very important for retailers attempting to stop the downward spiral toward bankruptcy.
Popular retail stores such as Pier 1 initially planned only to close certain branches. Unfortunately, the company has been forced to close its doors permanently due to the Coronavirus pandemic and has filed for bankruptcy. Meanwhile, other businesses are having similar issues. L Brands, the parent company of Victoria’s Secret and Bath and Body Works, plans to close roughly 250 Victoria’s Secret stores and about 50 Bath and Body Work stores due to profit losses. JC Penny planned to close around 242 store locations, but have since sold their chain to Brookfield Asset Managment, lenders, and Simon Property Group. Nordstrom plans to close approximately 19 sites (16 stores along with three boutiques). They are currently looking to their Nordstrom Rack and online shopping as a way to keep from going under. Signet Jewelers (Zales, Jared, and Kay) closed 150 stores during the height of the pandemic in spring. They slowly began reopening these stores last month. However, the company believes that they will still need to permanently shut down 150 of their stores by the end of the fiscal year.
These closing and more will have a huge impact on many individuals as stores they have come to know and love may not survive the pandemic’s detrimental economic impact. How will this affect future shopping experiences? Will couples still have the opportunity of saying, “He went to Jared!” or “Every kiss begins with K[ay]!”
The shopping experience will be constantly changing as the pandemic continues to reshape American lives. Many retailers have implemented regulations to keep patrons safe, such as capacity on the number of customers in the stores, placing markers on the floor to remind shoppers to practice social distancing, and requiring a mask upon entry of the establishment. This “new normal” has altered the shopping experience as shoppers now have to wait in longer lines for essential items such as groceries and walk through empty stores when shopping for non-essential items at places like the mall. Big Rooster, a branding firm owned by JLL (real estate service company), compiled a list of the different ways shopping has changed for consumers, starting with how consumers now think differently when shopping in-stores. Because of the COVID-19 virus’s nature, many individuals are more conscious and aware of touching things when browsing through a store.
Furthermore, many people are more protective of their personal space in order to practice social distancing guidelines. Due to the virus’s spread varying from state to state and city to city, more shoppers are sticking with local stores and minimizing trips out of town to shop. This mindset has added to the already popular option of online shopping. While the specific outcome of the pandemic is still unknown, it is clear that COVID-19 has hastened a huge shift in the shopping world.