Starbucks will reopen 85% of its U.S. stores by the end of this week, giving it a massive head start on its plan to reopen 90% of all stores by June 1, according to a letter from CEO Kevin Johnson seen by CNBC. Express, which also has started its reopening progress, plans to have 300 stores operational by Memorial Day.
Starbucks is taking precautions to limit the potential spread of coronavirus at its stores, including operating under limited hours, eliminating seating and setting up entryway handoff windows at the entrances of some stores. The retailer expects order-ahead and mobile pickup options to become more popular during the reopening process.
Express began the reopening process last week in Georgia and South Carolina and will continue with a phased approach that calibrates staff to mall traffic and consumer demand. The fashion retailer will introduce enhanced buy online, pick up in-store (BOPIS) options at all locations, including a curbside pickup pilot in Columbus, Ohio, and Chicago that may be expanded to additional stores.
All associates will be trained in new health and safety protocols, including the frequent cleaning and sanitization of the store. The retailer will offer contactless customer service and payment options, with further reopening plans to be accelerated or modified as the situation develops.
“This is a very fluid situation, and we will continue to operate in an agile and adaptive manner,” said Tim Baxter, CEO of Express in a statement. “The health and safety of our associates and customers is our priority as we reopen our stores. We know that it will take time before consumer confidence and shopping activity reach pre-pandemic levels, but I am confident that the actions we have taken, and the elements of The EXPRESSway Forward strategy that we had already begun to activate, put us in a strong position to achieve our long term objectives.”
Store Are Reopening, But The Situation Remains Uncertain
While brick-and-mortar locations are coming online, the COVID-19 pandemic is by no means over: the number of daily new cases is expected to reach 200,000 by the end of May, with the number of daily deaths hitting 3,000 in early June, according to an internal report by the departments of Homeland Security and Health and Human Services seen by The New York Times.
The situation has led to some associates reportedly being reluctant to return to work, according to Business Insider. Starbucks spokesperson Reggie Borges said that the company would consider firing or laying off partners so they could apply for unemployment benefits, though layoffs for those afraid to return to work would not be mandatory. However, employees that remain but choose not to work can collect neither pay nor benefits.