Covid-19 changed the way we shop. The big question now is which of the new habits will stick once the pandemic recedes.
Instead of lining up on Black Friday for a bargain-priced TV, shoppers ordered from home and picked up curbside. Even those who rarely bought online before the pandemic relied on the internet to bring them everything from groceries to pajamas to fake eyelashes.
“Consumers found some of the experiences forced by Covid to be convenient,” said Stefan Larsson, the chief executive officer of PVH Corp., which owns Tommy Hilfiger, Calvin Klein and other brands. “Anything that they perceive as making their life easier will be here to stay.”
Some retailers won’t be around to find out. Weaker players such as Lord & Taylor and J.C. Penney Co. filed for bankruptcy protection and closed hundreds of stores, while big companies such as Walmart Inc., Target Corp. , Amazon.com Inc. and Home Depot Inc. HD 0.42% consolidated their power.
...A store is no longer a store
Stores morphed into Amazon-style fulfillment centers during the pandemic as retailers looked for places to pack online orders.
One reason that won’t change once the economy reopens: It is cheaper. Target said it costs on average 40% less to ship orders that it fulfills from its stores, compared with the expense of shipping from its warehouses.
Expect more attempts to retrofit stores so consumers feel comfortable returning, such as contactless checkout and virtual makeup try-ons. Roughly 80% of women said they wouldn’t feel comfortable testing beauty products in stores even after they are vaccinated, according to a survey from analytics company First Insight.