After a couple of months with nothing to do but binge watch TV or go for quick grocery runs, consumers around some parts of the country are watching stores slowly open their doors again. While some shoppers have happily returned to shop in-store, post-pandemic anxiety among others is leading the retail apparel industry to figure out how to navigate suddenly unfamiliar terrain. It turns out the click and collect retail model that did well last holiday might come into play more than anyone planned just a few months ago.
“While many shoppers seem ready to go back in-store, particularly to buy clothing, the experience is anything but business-as-usual,” says Greg Petro, CEO of retail predictive analytics company First Insight, a customer-driven digital product testing solution for brands and retailers. “The coronavirus has moved the industry away from high-touch to low-touch. The ‘new normal’ for retailers will be to work with shoppers in a hands-free way to help them to find what they need while also giving them the space to feel comfortable, particularly with high-risk groups like Baby Boomers. Not feeling safe trying on clothing also begs many questions on how retailers and brands will need to adapt their return and exchange policy in the coming weeks.”
First Insight research found that most consumers are ready to shop in-store for apparel (54 percent), followed by home improvement (36 percent), and footwear (32 percent). However, 65 percent of women say they will not feel safe trying on clothes in dressing rooms and even more (66 percent) say they would not feel safe working with a sales associate. While men are significantly more at ease, more than half (54 percent) say they won’t feel safe both in a dressing room or working with sales associates.