Arizona retail analyst says in-store experience is ‘not going to be fun’
May 6, 2020, 1:00 PM | Updated: 7:24 pm
(Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)
PHOENIX — While retail stores will be allowed to reopen across the state on Friday, one Phoenix-area retail analyst says shoppers will be stepping onto a different landscape than before.
Industry locations have been closed statewide since Gov. Doug Ducey gave his stay-at-home order due to the coronavirus outbreak.
“It’s a great thing that retail is opening back in the state of Arizona but it will be different and it’s not going to be fun, so just prepare for that,” retail analyst Kristin Bentz told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s The Mike Broomhead Show on Wednesday.
“It’s going to be long lines, social distancing, masks, plexiglass, don’t touch the merchandise and don’t try anything on but please give us your money.”
Bentz also added that shoppers go to stores for what the industry calls “experiential retail.”
“You want to go to the store, hang out and you get a feel for it,” Bentz said.
“We call that ‘lingering time’ in retail, where you want to spend time and shop and try things on. That’s going to be gone, so kind of the romance of shopping is going to be really taken out of that.”
Bentz says retailers will have to rearrange merchandise on sales floors in order to accommodate to federal social distancing guidance, but she isn’t sure if some businesses will be able to make it as a result.
“I don’t know how retailers are going to be able to survive and restaurateurs and bar owners if they have to put in place all of these methods for social distancing, hand sanitizing, staff and expect to make money with half the space and half the ability to serve their customers,” she said.
“So it’s scary. It’s scary to see what’s going to happen. … It’s going to be a very strange experience, at least for right now.”
Bentz projects that many middle-market retailers such as Stein Mart, Stage Stores and Belk aren’t going to make it.
In fact, The Gap, Lord & Taylor and Nordstrom have already begun closing stores, while J.Crew filed for bankruptcy on Monday.
“If you were having problems before, you’re really going to hit the mat after. So there will be a lot of retailers that just won’t survive,” Bentz said.
“You’re going to see that for some of these retailers, it may not be worth it to stay in business and that’s what’s scary.”
So who exactly is set up to survive the new normal of in-store retail shopping?
Bentz says that to look at companies like Nike and Starbucks that have already experienced closing and reopening stores with social distance guidance oversees.
“They’ve seen it in Asia and it’s already working, they’re working around it,” Bentz said.
“Companies like that, that already had a great blueprint in place and can execute can survive — doesn’t mean thrive — it just means survive.”