Friday, May 22, 2020

How the pandemic is changing shopping

American Eagle, Sephora and Best Buy are among the retailers reimagining their stores to make shopping faster, easier and safer.

Matthew Mitchell talks with customers as Sierra Phillips adjusts a display at American Eagle Outfitters at Easton Town Center in Columbus, Ohio, on May 15. The retailer is reimagining its shopping experience in the pandemic.

By Abha Bhattarai

Tiara Show went to the mall last week in search of summer clothes — and a distraction from the pandemic that has kept her homebound since March.

But there were coronavirus reminders everywhere: A greeter at American Eagle told her masks were mandatory and offered her a disposable one. Inside, shelves had been pared down and rearranged, with jeans in one area, shirts in another. Every other fitting room was closed. After paying for her purchase — shirts, shorts and earrings — through a plexiglass divider, Show tore the receipt from the printer herself.

“Everything was so different,” said the 23-year-old from Missoula, Mont. “If anything, it made the virus feel more real.”

Across the country, stores are reopening to a changed reality. Retailers that have spent years trying to get customers to linger, in hopes they’ll buy more than they need, are reimagining their stores for a grab-and-go future filled with deliberate purchases. Gone, they say, are the days of trying on makeup or playing with toys in the aisles. The focus now is on making shopping faster, easier and safer to accommodate long-term shifts in consumer expectations and habits.  Read more >>