Retail Reset

A Virtual Forum Addressing COVID-19 Recovery Strategies

Macy’s, Starbucks And Five Below Take Unique Approaches To Reopening Strategies

Retailers’ reopening challenges vary significantly, due to a wide range of state and local legislation as well as key elements of their brick-and-mortar business models. Each company must balance the need to safely resume operations against the desire to attract cautious customers, but the variations are manifesting in a number of ways:

  • Macy’s beauty departments will offer “no-touch” consultations and demonstrations that let shoppers test products on a piece of paper illustrated with a diagram of a face;
  • Starbucks will set up entryway handouts where baristas can offer shoppers their drinks without needing to enter the store, and eliminate seating in locations where the inside of the store is open;
  • Five Below will immediately shift its stores to summer inventories and put an emphasis on its “Kick Start the Fun Again” tagline; and
  • Best Buy will let shoppers reserve one-on-one in-store consultations, letting a small number of customers inside at any given time to browse large appliances and other high-cost, high-consideration purchases.

Macy’s CEO Jeff Gennette confirmed the reopening plan, which calls for 68 stores to reopen on May 4 and the remainder to open within the next six weeks, in an interview with The Wall Street Journal. However, he also noted that the retailer’s expectations are muted: the stores that come back first are expected to drive less than 20% of their usual sales volumes at first.

The retailer will ease shoppers’ reluctance through the aforementioned changes to its beauty consultations, as well as by requiring customers to use hand sanitizer before trying on jewelry or watches. Additionally, only a select few changing rooms will be open at once, and both returned and tried-on items will be held for 24 hours before being returned to the sales floor.

Starbucks stores’ relatively small square footage limits customers’ ability to maintain their distance, and CEO Kevin Johnson shared his plans to handle this challenge on an investor call. The first 30 stores to open will let shoppers order inside and pick up their items at the to-go counter, but there will be no seating and only a limited number of shoppers will be allowed inside at a time.


The retailer also is shooting to have 90% of its stores reopened by early June, which will call for additional measures at some locations. Entryway hand-off will let shoppers place orders ahead of time and pick them up outside, minimizing contact, and Starbucks also will roll out curbside service at locations with parking lots.

Five Below is ahead of the game with its own return to normal: the company already has reopened 17 stores in Arkansas, Iowa and Nebraska, with another 100 planned in five additional states this week. The company is planning to open “many more” throughout the first half of May, with the majority opened by early June, according to CEO Joel Anderson.

The retailer’s reopening efforts will include the rollout of curbside pickup, which was launched at 40 stores in Florida, Tennessee, California and Texas and will expand to hundreds of locations in the coming week.


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