How Will In-Store Shopping Change After COVID-19?
The retail industry is constantly evolving, but COVID-19 is likely to force unprecedented and rapid changes unlike anything shoppers have ever witnessed. With so much in flux, it is not yet entirely clear which changes will last. However, we expect that the following changes will continue for the foreseeable future.
Continued Pickup and Delivery Options
During the pandemic, many customers transitioned to relying on pickup and delivery services. Many customers will probably continue to prefer these options, so we expect stores to adjust to meet these demands. Some stores that have been closed during the height of the crisis will also likely introduce new shopping options as they reopen.
Fewer Big In-Store Sales
Big in-store sale events draw in crowds. Traditionally, many stores have relied on these events to drive sales. In the wake of COVID-19, we anticipate that most major in-store events will be canceled in favor of online deals. While it’s difficult to guess when things will go back to normal, we would be surprised to see big in-store Black Friday deals this year.
Less Self-Serve Food
Many grocery stores have self-serve delis and salad bars. These may be a convenient way to grab lunch, but most grocery stores will probably suspend or permanently do away with these options since it would be challenging to ensure the area is not contaminated.
Enhanced Cleaning and Safety Procedures
During the crisis, so many new cleaning and safety procedures have made their way into stores. While some of these procedures may be relaxed, many stores will probably hang on to at least some. This is likely to be very inconsistent between stores, but some may continue to have masking requirements, plexiglass shields at checkout counters, hand sanitizer stations, and disinfecting wipes available for cleaning the carts.
More Personal Space
Shoppers may have a little more elbow room in stores in the future. To allow for social distancing, many stores have removed displays in aisles so that there is more room to move around. Some retailers may also continue to limit how many customers can enter the store during busier times of the year. Stores that are newly built or remodeled may also feature wider aisles so that it’s easier to shop without close contact.
Prices will probably change, but it is unclear which direction they’ll go in. Implementing changes is expensive for retailers, so they may need to increase some prices in order to make a profit. Many consumers will likely continue to stockpile the essentials, like food and toilet paper, so we’d expect these items to be the most likely to see price hikes.
At the same time, with many people out of work and others feeling financially insecure, retailers may also have to offer deals to attract customers. Because of this, we anticipate we’ll see big savings on non-essential items, like clothing.
Changes to Local Businesses
Local businesses have been hit hard by this crisis. Whether or not they survive will depend on their community support. Some local businesses will close. However, increased interest in shopping local may also help some establishments thrive.
What other changes do you think stores should implement for the safety of their shoppers and employees? Share your ideas in the comments section below!