With many retail stores around the world shuttered to stop the spread of COVID-19, concerns have arisen: even when the economy recovers, will permanent changes to consumer behavior mean trouble for brick-and-mortar retail? It’s easy to see why some might think this – even before the pandemic, consumers were becoming more and more comfortable with making purchases online, so the question arises as to whether COVID-19 will substantially accelerate this trend.
But a hopeful signal for retail stores has emerged – if the recent re-opening of the Hermès flagship store in Guangzhou, China, is any indication:
The French heritage brand’s Guangzhou flagship store reportedly achieved $2.7 million in sales when it reopened this weekend, according to WWD. This figure is believed to be the highest daily haul for a single boutique in China, and offers hope to luxury brands and retailers of what economic recovery may look like in the coming months.
WWD noted that although Hermès did not immediately respond to verify this tally, a host of VIP shoppers documented their extravagant purchases across multiple social media platforms, including Weibo and Xiaohongshu, reinforcing its likelihood.
For brands that deliver a premium in-store experience, like Hermès, shoppers are still enthusiastic to visit the store, make purchases and document the entire experience on social media. For premium retailers, this means a focus on delivering a high-quality in-store experience will still deliver value. We saw this pre-pandemic in our work with retail platforms like XY that integrate personalized in-store experiences with efficient online supply chain management – giving retailers the best of both worlds – and, if early indications like the opening day sales at Hermès hold, we expect to continue to see strength for stand-alone retailers with a strong focus on customer experience. This downtime would also be an excellent opportunity for retailers to review their findability, ensuring their locations are updated on Google Maps with accurate photos and inventories to guarantee a smooth re-open.