On Monday, June 8, New York’s retail stores were allowed to reopen. For one of the biggest retail markets in the country, it could be an important milestone in getting fashion brands back on track. But many fashion brands have opted to wait, instead take a longer view of the path to reopening, driven by a multitude of factors. That includes the increased viability of e-commerce and a potential second wave of coronavirus infections.

For many brands, particularly DTC brands, the biggest deterrent to reopening is the question of whether people will actually show up. Stores are expensive to run, especially for DTC brands for which they are often already operated at a loss, and brands would be running those stores at reduced capacities. Brands like Suitsupply (which has seven stores in NYC that have not reopened) have told Glossy that the first few weeks after a store reopens tend to have significantly depressed foot traffic. 

Research shows that foot traffic will be sparse for early-opening brands. A study from the Washington Post and the University of Maryland in early May found that, even though the majority of people — 56% — said they would shop at a grocery store, 67% of people said they would not feel comfortable shopping at a clothing store. On a hierarchy of places where people will feel comfortable shopping, a study from retail predictive analytics company First Insight in late April placed department stores and shopping malls near the bottom of the list.

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