The Retail Sector Looks at Itself in the Mirror of 9/11By Daniel González | Tue, 04/14/2020 - 13:52
9/11 was a turning point in the lives of millions of people around the world. After the fall of the Twin Towers in New York City and the subsequent war against terrorism waged by the US, the world adopted extreme security measures that over the years have become a normal part of our lives. Airports, ports and train stations went from being simple transit points to strongholds where any strange activity automatically becomes suspicious. And that is the mirror in which the global retail sector is looking. The industry believes that nothing will ever be the same once COVID-19 is brought under control. “In the first months and while the threat of a possible upturn in COVID-19 lasts, shopping centers and stores will have to fight for secure site accreditation,” explained Javier Vello, a retail expert from consultancy firm EY, to the portal moda.es. "Retailers are already preparing and the security measures to face COVID-19 will not be temporary. As it happened with airports after 9/11, new measures are here to stay," said Vello.
The world is slowly adapting to what appears to be an absolute paradigm shift in the way human beings relate to trade. Sooner or later, shops and malls will open their doors again, albeit in a completely different scenario than at the beginning of 2020. Changing rooms will be eliminated, technology will play a much more important role at points of sale and capacity controls will be commonplace in the future post-COVID-19. Moreover, according to several analysts, a restructuring of the retail market is expected, which will have to adapt to the new times. Among the possible measures is a radical change in the structures that marked the evolution of the retail sector during the second half of the 20th century and the first years of the 21st century. These measures include changes such as the construction of larger sales spaces that allow for the separation of people, capacity control in stores and routine disinfection of products and spaces.
Marketing strategies through real estate carried out by companies like Inditex, Starbucks or Chipotle, already seemed obsolete in the world before COVID-19, a trend that also seems to be solidifying. “A few months ago, we knew that the physical store model was not very useful in an omnichannel world,” says Luis Lara, a consultant from Retalent. Today, the population has adapted to online shopping, queuing with a space of two meters between people to go to the supermarket or buying only the essentials through e-commerce. “A few months ago, we thought that at least half of the shops and shopping centers were pointless and would end up closing down. Imagine now, when confinement is forcing us to focus on the essentials,” continues Lara.
France has extended compulsory confinement until May 11, Italy until May 3 and Spain until April 26. India and Bangladesh, strategic countries for the manufacture of software, hardware and textiles, have decreed very harsh compulsory confinement. Meanwhile, historical centers of consumption such as the US and the UK have seen their economy, and as a result the spending capacity of their citizens, fall significantly. Twenty years ago, the world got used to taking off their shoes to cross airport security. COVID-19 will force us to get used to changing our shopping routines at shops and malls. The world will never be the same again; neither will the retail sector.