Retail Will Survive Covid! (some advice)
When the entire world has been put on pause as we await the coronavirus pandemic to pass, it may be difficult to look towards the future, but as a business and property owner, you must do exactly that. You must brace for the political and economic impact that lies in wait; however, this does not mean that you cannot align your businesses with the operations of a post-pandemic world. We must find ways to support the businesses that support you.
As retail property owners and developers it is your responsibility to create an atmosphere that will accommodate the new normal and inspire confidence. Health and safety is your number one priority. The CDC has given the following recommendations as we re-enter the work and retail world.
- Social distancing and precautions in place for employees, including wearing of face coverings and gloves
- Employees with a fever or cold and flu-like symptoms such as a cough, sore throat, runny nose or body aches are required to stay home
- Appropriate signage with the CDC recommendations.
- Encouragement of social distancing practices, including the use of distancing markers and extra space in passing locations.
There are many other ways to help your tenants get through this.
The pandemic has shown people that remote work can be just as beneficial as working from the office. Meetings have taken shape in the form of Zoom and FaceTime sessions, and more people have found themselves dealing in the digital world. Make sure you are active in this digital world so that you remain visible to your clients and tenants.
- Greeters and Health stations. Greeters to answer any questions, provide direction and give a sense of calm about the new type of shopping/working experience. Health Stations to offer masks, gloves and sanitizers to your patrons.
- Regularly share information on small business Covid 19 assistance programs and loan awareness and the changes as they develop.
- Set up a standard per person protocol based on the size of the space. These will be helpful guidelines for your individual shops/businesses to follow, keeping the tenants and consumers safe.
- Daily Updates for tenants as well as patrons. Create a sense of comfort. Information and answered questions are what people need right now.
- The city has many new protocols about street closings for social distancing. This might be a great time to look at your access ways and alleys. This would allow the restaurants to have more seating while offering a safe distance for their guests.
Recommendations to help your retailers adapt and generate traffic
- Reservation Shopping. There are reasonably priced apps out there, the restaurant industry uses them but no one in retail yet. This will allow customers to be placed on a waiting list to enter a store and receive a text when their turn comes up.
-Touchless payments. All credit card processors offer this. Recommend your individual stores to sign up for a system change.
- Create an organized delivery service and pick up location. Just keep things flowing as easy as possible.
- For those shops that do not have on-line shopping, an Instagram story shop or a Youtube virtual shop is a very easy way to sell goods remotely and update daily.
- Employ a site-wide personal shopper. Someone that could pull from all of the shops and make in-home visits or by-appointment shopping in offices.
- Add some variety to your offerings, create more open air shopping experiences. Flower and gift carts; gelato, bake goods and sweet treats can all be sold quickly in a cash and carry situation.
- Turn the music up and make it a happy place. Add some entertainment and give folks a reason to smile, shop, work and feel a sense of normalcy.
- Bring in some food trucks and set up safe distance seating. Food trucks are a great way to drive foot traffic, create a sense of normalcy and support a variety of small businesses.
- Cleaning and sanitizing team. Make this visible and comfortable. You want your patrons to see that you are cleaning and disinfecting the properties, but do not scare them with this action. Disinfecting of the common areas, particularly busy locations such as restrooms, seating, dining and gathering areas should happen continuously.
This is the new normal...for a while at least.