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Shoppers may need to book ahead after the end of lockdown

Retailers pin their hopes on the festive and wedding season in the latter part of this year if the second wave of the pandemic spares India. Photo: Priyanka Parashar/Mint
Retailers pin their hopes on the festive and wedding season in the latter part of this year if the second wave of the pandemic spares India. Photo: Priyanka Parashar/Mint

  • Retailers may go the the extra mile, devising ways to woo customers back while complying with norms on hygiene and social distancing
  • Besides reaching out to their customers online and apprising them of the safety measures taken, retailers are betting on the word of mouth publicity to bring shoppers back

MUMBAI : When you step out to shop after the lockdown is lifted, be prepared to shop by appointment and enter the showroom in personal protective gear.

As safety tops customer priorities, retailers know that footfall post-covid-19 will dwindle. Nevertheless, they are going the extra mile, devising ways to woo customers back, while addressing hygiene and social distancing norms.

“Shop by appointment probably looks like a reality going forward," said Ajay Kapoor, president, retail, Fabindia, adding that shops will have to work around it. Kapoor was talking at a webinar on retail business roadmap organized by the Retailers Association of India on 29 April.

He said the biggest challenge for Fabindia will be to regulate traffic to its popular stores while adhering to social distancing norms. Fabindia, which is running 10 out of its 327 stores to deliver food and essential items, is trying to work on the concept of shopping by appointment.

Men’s clothing brand Blackberrys is working to keep its showrooms clean by regular cleaning of door knobs, covering of footwear, and sanitizing trial rooms and cash desk.

“In addition to tangible measures, we are equally conscious of the safety of our sales team and customer care associates, so we are advising them to avoid public transport," said Nitin Mohan, founder and director, Blackberrys, adding that the firm’s HR department tracks staff’s safety through morning and evening phone calls. It has also decided trial clothes for customers will be kept aside for a few days before being put back on the shelves.

India’s retail industry may take at least 9-12 months to recover from the pandemic.

“The most important thing for malls and stores is to create an environment of safety and win over the first few shoppers coming in. Then the word-of-mouth will spread. More and more shoppers will become comfortable and business will revive," said Sumit Ghosh, director, Fossil India.

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