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Published
Apr 25, 2020
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U.S. retail executives readying for change post-coronavirus: survey

Published
Apr 25, 2020

As the Covid-19 crisis continues to force temporary store closures around the world, a new study from McKinsey & Company has revealed that although consumers might be eager to hit the mall, retail executives expect a delayed rebound of traffic once stores reopen, and will be embracing several operational changes. 

Retail executives readying for change post Covid-19. - Instagram: @mallofamerica


The survey of 98 U.S.-based executives revealed that most expect a recovery of store traffic to take at least several months, with 36 percent estimating six months or more for traffic to rebound.

Once stores do open, precautionary measures and operating-model changes will be widespread. 

In fact, more than half of respondents indicate they will temporarily reduce operating hours and staffing levels when stores reopen. Those who plan to reduce staffing levels expect to reopen with an average of 22 percent fewer store employees.

In store, executives plan to institute precautionary measures such as increasing store cleanings and encouraging safe distancing among customers in stores to promote employee and customer safety. 

Moreover, responses suggest that apparel and beauty retailers will be making changes to its policies by extending deadlines for returns and changing returns-handling procedures. 

Longterm, many executives say they are also reevaluating their footprints altogether with approximately one-third of respondents reporting that they are considering not reopening underperforming stores. 

Similarly, those who had plans to open new stores might be pressing pause and delaying any new store opening dates. 

With stores closed, the importance of e-commerce has never been more relevant and retailers expect e-commerce to remain stronger than before the Covid-19 outbreak. Surveyed executives predict a 6 to 13 percentage-point increase in online penetration compared with pre-pandemic levels.

And so, about three-quarters of apparel executives say they plan to improve online integration at their stores.

McKinsey & Company’s findings are based on survey data collected between April 6 and April 8, 2020.

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