COVID-19: Latest Industry News

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COVID-19: Latest Industry News

By CSA Staff - 03/19/2020

Stay up to date on the impact of the coronavirus on the retail industry and how the industry is navigating the crisis.

Study puts COVID-19 income losses at $8,900 per worker

The U.S. workforce has taken a big economic hit as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In total, U.S. workers have lost $1.3 trillion in income during the health crisis, amounting to an average loss of nearly $8,900 per worker, according to research published by the Society for Human Resource Management and Oxford Economics. The amount translates to roughly $8,900 per worker. 

Read more here.  


Poag CEO: Our lifestyle centers are ready to thrive in the post-COVID-19 world

As the COVID-19 related shutdowns began to wind down in Texas and Georgia, Poag Shopping Centers’ lifestyle centers were among the first to welcome back guests. 

As we watched them shop our retailers, enjoy freshly prepared meals, and stroll our grounds, we saw expressions of relief and hope, happiness and joy. It was clear that what was true before the pandemic will be true after: Brick-and-mortar is the most important channel for retailers. 

Read more here.


Phillips Edison launches re-opening website for tenants

As more states begin allowing non-essential businesses to re-open, Phillips Edison & Company has created a website to help tenants get going quickly at its 317 centers in the United States.

Read more here.  


Survey: Takeout orders rise for multiple reasons

Consumers are ordering more takeout meals from restaurants during the COVID-19 pandemic.

On-demand delivery/pickup platform DoorDash surveyed nearly 1,000 of its customers about their motivations for choosing takeout orders. More than half of respondents (56%) said the amount they ordered takeout has increased amidst the pandemic as they support their local businesses during COVID-19.

Read more here.


Commentary: How to Optimize Physical Store Business During COVID-19 and Beyond

The economic impact COVID-19 is having on physical stores is unprecedented, as more than 250,000 locations across the U.S. have either temporarily or entirely closed since March. 

Some of the biggest retailers, like Walmart and Target, are reducing the economic impact by adapting their physical locations to improve the online aspect of their operations. For smaller businesses that don't have the same resources, navigating the current crisis is a considerable challenge.

Read more here.


Global fashion retailer simulates modeling with AR during COVID-19

Asos is leveraging augmented reality (AR) technology to ensure it safely provides a digital product view as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.

Read more here.


Sephora to start reopening stores — with lots of safety protocols

Sephora will reopen its stores in phases, starting with more than 70 locations on May 22. But the in-store environment — at least for the time being — will be different than what customers are used to. 

Read more here.


ICSC TV ad asks for passage of COVID-19 Recovery Fund

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused many firsts, the latest one being the first national TV ad campaign from the International Council of Shopping Centers.

Read more here.  


Kohl’s swings to loss as sales plummet in tough Q1

Store closures resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic wreaked havoc on Kohl’s first-quarter financial performance.

Read more here.


Customers will need to have their temperature checked to enter an Apple store

Apple is starting to reopen its U.S. stores with stringent new protocols in place.

Customers will be required to undergo a temperature check and wear a mask before entering an Apple store, according to a letter to customers on the company’s web site. (If a customer doesn’t have a mask, Apple will provide it.). 

Read more here.


State Lockdowns: Update on the latest orders in response to COVID-19

Stay-at-home orders nationwide are expiring and easing — or in some cases, extending — in varying degrees. Here’s an update on what some states are doing.

Read more here


Kroger rewards employees with new payout; extends paid emergency leave

The Kroger Co. is doubling down on its efforts to reward its frontline employees working during the COVID-19 crisis.

The country’s largest grocery store retailer said it will provide a special “Thank You Pay” to hourly frontline grocery, supply chain, manufacturing, pharmacy and call center employees to acknowledge their dedication to maintaining safe, clean and stocked stores. The one-time reward will be $400 for qualified full-time associates and $200 for qualified part-time associates. It will be paid out in two installments on May 30 and June 18.

Read more here.


Shopkick: Consumers ready to return to stores — with caveats

A new survey reveals anxieties and expectations consumers have about shopping in stores as COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.

Once non-essential retailers reopen, 61% of consumers plan to visit apparel, shoe and accessories stores, according to a survey from shopping rewards app Shopkick. Next on the list is beauty stores (50%), followed by home improvement stores (42%), entertainment and hobby stores (39%) and home decor stores (34%). 

Read more here


Big Minnesota malls begin opening on Monday

Two major malls in the Minneapolis metro will welcome back shoppers on Monday.

The Galleria in Edina will crack its doors open at 11 a.m. and 15 stores and six restaurants will be ready to move merchandise and serve takeout food. 

Read more here


Hooters reopens 150-plus locations for dine-in service 

Customers can now dine in at select Hooters locations as the chain begins its first phase of reopening.

Hooters of America, the franchisor and operator of more than 410 Hooters restaurants in 38 states and 24 countries, detailed the safety precautions it is taking, which include modified seating plans and assigning a “hygiene captain” to each shift to ensure compliance to all guidelines.

Read more here


Postmates jumps to curbside pickup for customers, drivers

An omnichannel delivery platform is attempting to ease the post-COVID-19 brick-and-mortar reopening process. 

Postmates now offers a curbside pickup service for its retail clients. The service is meant to help retailers responsibly accelerate reopening of their stores by enabling customers and drivers to pick up orders curbside, rather than going into the physical store.

Read more here


Survey: Consumer behavior continues shifting during pandemic

Comparative surveys conducted in March and April demonstrate many COVID-19-related consumer trends have accelerated since the crisis began. Retail and supply chain enterprise software provider Blue Yonder surveyed 1,000 U.S. adult consumers in both March and April. 

Read more here


Re-opened Ikea centers in Europe and Asia see 80% traffic returns

Ten Ikea-anchored shopping centers in Poland opened up after 51 days of shutdown and counted an 87% return of normal traffic. An 81% footfall register was recorded at another mall in China owned by Ingka Group, Ikea’s shopping center division.

Read more here


Include the human factor in your post-pandemic technology plans

As retailers prepare for an increasingly technocentric “new normal” following COVID-19, they should design strategies around consumer behavior.

The phrase “new normal” is quickly replacing “omnichannel” as the preferred buzzword of retail practitioners and prognosticators. While nobody knows exactly what the “new normal” will look like once the COVID-19 pandemic passes, clearly technology will play a major role in shaping it.

Read more here
 


Who’s paying rent and who’s not? (Staples paid!)

News outlets reported in early April that Sycamore Partners refused to pay April rents for its Staples stores during the pandemic, even though the stores remained open. Not true. As May began, 82% of the month’s rents for Staples were in landlord’s hands.

Read more here


Survey: 43% of essential retailers increased hourly pay amid COVID-19

A new survey details the measures essential retailers are taking to reward and protect employees amid the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Forty-three percent of essential retailers said they have increased hourly pay, 17% said they are offering a bonus to be paid into the future, and 22% percent say they are offering both increased hourly pay and a bonus, according to a Korn Ferry survey of more than 50 major U.S. retailers, with annual revenues between $50 million to more than $20 billion.

Read more here.
 


Dillard’s to reopen 116 more stores next week

Dillard’s reported a smaller fiscal first-quarter loss than analysts had expected and also said it is starting to reopen its stores.

The department store retailer posted a net loss of $162.0 million, or $6.94 per share, for the quarter ended May 2, compared to net income of $78.6 million, or $2.99 per share, for the year-ago period. 

Read more here.


Analysis: Only bright spots in April were online, grocery

In April, total retail sales plummeted by 20.9% on a year-over-year basis. This is the worst performance on record, beating both May 1938 when sales declined by 18.5% and February 1981 when sales dropped by 15.3%. Essentially, April was the month when large parts of the retail economy simply ground to a halt.

Read more here.


Retail sales in record drop in April, with clothing taking the biggest hit

Consumer spending nosedived in April as the COVID-19 pandemic drove record unemployment and caused many states to continue stay-at-home orders.

Total retail sales fell 21.6% in April from a year earlier and were down 16.4% from March, when sales fell 8.3%. As reported by the U.S. Census Bureau, core retail sales, excluding auto and gasoline sectors but including food and beverage, dropped 16.2%, following a decrease of 2.8% in March. 

Read more here


COVID-19 could open up prime locations for cannabis retailers

Lines have been long at dispensaries during the pandemic, said Caltabiano.
Landlords of outdoor shopping centers—especially those with loads of closed stand-alone restaurants—may want to develop some contacts in the cannabis dispensary business.

As the president and co-founder of Cresco Labs, Joe Caltabiano encountered leasing obstacles for the company’s Sunnyside cannabis dispensaries in top shopping centers. Age-old cultural stereotypes and the cannabis industry’s inability to accept credit card payments had usually eager leasing agents not returning his phone calls. 

Read more here.


Kroger hires 100,000 workers with help of expedited hiring process

The Kroger Co. has hired 100,000 employees during the past eight weeks, adding to the 460,000 workers the grocer had before the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The country’s largest grocery chain said it initiated an expedited hiring process in early March to shorten the time between application and employment, onboarding new hires in an average of 72 hours. Kroger also adjusted its new hire approach to focus on tasks vs. role-based development, concentrating on culture and safety, the company said. The adjustment allows new hires to more quickly acclimate to their role and expectations. 

Read more here.


Four new tech solutions to promote health, safety of employees, customers

With COVID-19 changing the way many retailers operate their stores and distribution centers, tech providers are offering innovative solutions designed to reduce the risk of infection.

Here is a look at four new solutions.

Read more here.


Gartner: Supply chain faces disruptive threats before COVID-19 vaccine

Gartner has identified three scenarios chief supply chain officers (CSCOs) should prepare for until a COVID-19 vaccine is developed. 

A survey of 833 members of the Gartner Research Circle found that 84% of organizations are facing varying forms of COVID-19-related disruption. In response, Gartner has developed three prevaccine scenarios CSCOs can utilize in their decision-making process. A synopsis of each scenario follows.

Read more here.


Parent company of Coach reopening stores by market

Tapestry Inc. has started to reopen stores in North America, Europe and in additional markets in Asia as government regulations on movement ease. 

The retailer on Thursday said it expects, by the end of the week, to have more than 300 Coach, Kate Spade, and Stuart Weitzman stores in North America offering curbside or store pickup service. 

Read more here.


Study: Use of cash, checks on decline during pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic is altering the way Americans pay and shop.

According to a survey of more than 1,000 U.S. consumers from financial services technology provider FIS, 45% of respondents said they are using a mobile wallet of some type and 16% indicated they are now using paper-based currency less than before the pandemic. 

Read more here.


Amazon to bring new COVID-19 face shield model to market 

Amazon is applying its drone knowledge to produce face shields with a 3D printer.

In early March 2020, a group of mechanical design and hardware engineers from the Amazon Prime Air drone division joined a group of 3D printing enthusiasts in Washington who were designing and building open-source face shields by hand. In one week, the engineers, in coordination with the open-source group, took the initial design and improved it, including by making it reusable. 


Read more here.


CBRE: Restaurants will re-open slowly and cautiously

The restaurants, bars, food halls, and brew pubs that have been top traffic-builders in new town centers and mixed-use projects will need time to re-establish themselves as markets re-open.

A new report from CBRE estimated that most such establishments will re-open at a maximum of 50% of capacity and will need special help from landlords to become operational. 

Read more here.


CVS Health opening 50 COVID-19 test sites this week

CVS Health is opening new COVID-test sites as part of its commitment to have more than 1,000 sites up and running by the end of May.

The company will open more than 50 COVID-19 test sites this week at select CVS Pharmacy drive-thru locations across Arizona, Connecticut, Florida, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania. CVS said it expects to open hundreds of additional test sites during the next two weeks. 


Read more here


Expert Analysis: Retailers Embrace a Brave New Industry

COVID-19 is altering consumer behaviors and many of these shifts could be permanent. Online ordering, curbside pickup and home delivery may have been growing in popularity before the coronavirus pandemic began, but they weren’t yet the norm. They soon could be, because once people realize the benefits of digital commerce, they are unlikely to abandon it altogether.

New Accenture research found one in five respondents who said their most-recent grocery purchase was done online were first-time online grocery shoppers. And while 32% of current purchases of all products and services have been online, that figure is expected to rise to 37% going forward.

Read more here
 


Rite Aid further expands delivery with Instacart assistance

Rite Aid is partnering with Instacart to enable on-demand delivery of essential healthcare and grocery items during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.
 
Instacart delivery is now available from Rite Aid’s more than 2,400 locations across 18 states. Customers can visit the Rite Aid or Instacart site, where they can obtain online access to a full catalog of healthcare and grocery products from their local store, excluding prescription medications. 

Read more here


Dutch restaurant employs greenhouses for social distancing

The Dutch revolutionized farming yields by growing plants year-round in greenhouses, so why not use the same solution to ease pandemic-plagued fine dining.

An Amsterdam restaurant called Medieamatic ETEN has begun serving its vegetarian specialties to guests in individual quarantinec greenhouses, according to a report from CNN. The see-all private dining quarters have been a sellout.

Read more here


1-800-Flowers provides peer support during COVID-19

A specialty gift retailer is offering customers going through life events access to a virtual help network.  

1-800-Flowers is collaborating with emotional wellness self-care platform Wisdo to launch Connection Communities. The new online portal connects customers to eight curated communities where they can connect with one another around shared life experiences. The retailer is rolling out Connection Communities as many consumers struggle with COVID-19-related issues, but plans to keep the portal open beyond the pandemic.

Read more here


Expert Insight: The ‘New Next’ for Retail

In early 2020, retail was predictable. 

Clothes were neatly stacked on shelves and displayed on mannequins, shoppers browsed in search of just the right item, and online orders came into the warehouse and awaited fulfillment. Then COVID-19 hit, and a new reality emerged. 

Read more here


Amazon opens SNAP pilot to more consumers

Amazon is now accepting federal benefit payments for online grocery orders in four additional states and Washington, D.C.

The e-tail giant has been participating in a pilot with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) that allows consumers who receive SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) benefits — typically referred to as food stamps — to purchase groceries online for home delivery. Eligible consumers can now use SNAP payments for online grocery purchases in Idaho, Missouri, North Carolina, Texas, and Washington, D.C.

Read more here


Walmart to give employees another cash bonus

Walmart Inc. is rewarding its employees with a second cash bonus — bringing its total bonus payouts to $935 million — as it continues to keep up with demand amid the COVID-19 crisis.

The retail giant said Tuesday that it will give a bonus in the amount of $300 for full-time hourly employees and $150 for part-time hourly and temporary employees. The total price tag for the bonuses will be $390 million.  

Read more here.


Expert Analysis: Reopening Businesses Face Thorny Customer-Facing ADA Issues

COVID-19 has had a profound impact on the ways in which we use (or, more accurately, avoid) public accommodations spaces in recent months.

As businesses start to reopen in various parts of the country, they are implementing social distancing and other mitigation measures aimed to curb the spread of the virus among their employees and customers. Businesses need to consider how these new measures impact customers with disabilities and adjust them accordingly.

Read more here.


Survey: Online shopping, customer concerns rise during pandemic

COVID-19 is creating new e-commerce patterns and anxieties among consumers.

According to a survey of more than 1,000 U.S. consumers from UPS subsidiary Ware2Go, more than half (55%) of respondents say they’re purchasing from online retailers they’ve never shopped with before. Almost nine in 10 (87%) of respondents are shopping online, and 64% have replaced traditional weekly shopping trips with online ordering.

Read more here.


ACI Worldwide: Global e-commerce sales skyrocket in April; fraud up over last year

The COVID-19 crisis continued to drive global e-commerce sales in April.

Sales in the general retail sector rose 209% in April compared to the same period last year, according to an analysis by ACI Worldwide of hundreds of millions of e-commerce transactions from global online retailers. Following general retail, the gaming segment saw the biggest bump, up 126% in April.

Read more here


CSA Exclusive: Google sees cloud as key to retail COVID-19 response

COVID-19 is having a varying impact on retailers, but Google views cloud computing as the platform to solve underlying industry issues.

Chain Store Age recently spoke with Pravin Pillai, global lead, industry solutions, retail, Google Cloud, about how the pandemic is affecting retailers and how they can leverage cloud-based solutions to meet rapidly changing customer needs.

Read more here


Retail center owner in D.C. readies re-opening plan

Peterson's Rio center in Gaithersburg, Md., was one of CSA's Breakout Centers of 2020.
Though government officials in the Washington D.C., area have yet to set a re-opening date for all retailers, Peterson Companies is ready for the day.

The owner of four of the largest shopping and lifestyle centers in the region has issued a detailed “Welcome Back Plan” and is outfitting its locations to get back into business. 

Read more here.


Publix joins prescription delivery trend as pandemic continues

Publix is the latest retailer to offer home delivery of prescription medication in the midst of COVID-19.

Publix Pharmacy and prescription delivery platform ScriptDrop are collaborating to offer home delivery of prescriptions within a five-mile radius of each in-store pharmacy location for a $5 delivery fee. Customers who receive a text message when prescriptions are ready will receive a link to prepay for their prescriptions and choose delivery.   

Read more here


REI to offer curbside pick-up as it starts reopening stores

REI is preparing for a safe return to customer-facing services as a growing number of states begin to reopen for limited outdoor activity.

Starting this week, the outdoor gear and apparel retailer will begin offering curbside pick-up at more than half of its 162 stores nationwide and will launch zero-contact bike shop services in select locations. REI will also begin reopening its, beginning with three location in Montana.  

Read more here


Adobe: Grocery drives COVID-19 e-commerce surge

Early consumer response to the COVID-19 pandemic included doubling their online grocery purchases.

The latest Adobe Digital Economy Index from Adobe Analytics shows that between March 13 and 15, when pandemic-related shutdown orders began in many parts of the U.S., daily online grocery sales grew 100% compared to the March 1-11 baseline period. This propelled a 25% increase in overall e-commerce sales.

Read more here


PepsiCo complements retail sales with DTC sites

A global CPG giant is entering the e-commerce vertical as online demand for food and beverage products grows during the COVID-19 pandemic.

PepsiCo Inc. is launching PantryShop.com and Snacks.com, two direct-to-consumer websites where shoppers can order an assortment of food and beverage bundles and goods. The sites are accessible through a seamless, mobile-optimized ordering experience that enables checkout within a couple of clicks.

Read more here


Petco promotes curbside pickup at local level with Google

Petco is using Google ads to inform customers of what products are available for contactless curbside pickup at nearby stores.

Since November, Google has been allowing retailers who use its local campaigns advertising service to promote inventory that is available for in-store pickup at nearby physical locations. Google is now beta-testing a local inventory ads curbside pickup badge that shows customers if the products they are searching for are available for curbside pickup at nearby stores.

Read more here


Bed Bath & Beyond’s digital pivot continues; most stores won’t reopen before June

Bed Bath & Beyond continues to expand its fulfilment capabilities and omnichannel offerings to support increased demand across its digital channels and is also making plans to gradually reopen its stores.

The company, which expects the majority of stores across its banners to remain closed until at least May 30, 2020, is expanding buy-online-pickup-in-store and contactless curbside pickup services to at least 200 additional stores, for a total of 750 stores, or approximately 50% of its store fleet across the U.S. and Canada.  

Read more here.


Genesco reopening Journeys, Johnston & Murphy stores

Genesco Inc. has begun reopening its store banners.

The footwear and accessories retailer said it has reopened more than 300 Journeys stores and anticipates reopening more than 400 stores by the end of May. Genesco’s Johnston & Murphy division will begin its initial phase of store reopenings with up to 30 locations reopening this week, an additional 40 locations next week, and a more aggressive schedule to follow. The company said it expects many more openings in June.

Read more here


Hy-Vee offers express pickup, expands online assortment

A regional Midwestern grocer is enabling customers to order more products online and pick them up at local stores faster.

Hy-Vee Inc. now offers a two-hour express pickup option as part of its Hy-Vee Aisles Online omnichannel grocery-ordering service, allowing customers to pay a fee to pick up their order faster. Customers will see a “Get It Faster” option on Aisles Online time slots where the two-hour pickup option is available. 

Read more here


Study: Consumers ready to buy apparel in-store — but nix try-ons

Shoppers are ready to purchase apparel and other non-essential items in stores, but with some major changes compared to pre-pandemic. 

A recent study by First Insight found that 54% of consumers are ready to buy apparel in-store, but that 65% of women say they will not feel safe trying on clothes in dressing rooms. (By comparison, 54% of men said they would not feel safe trying on clothes in dressing rooms.)

Read more here


These are the 16 stores that Nordstrom is permanently closing

As Nordstrom begins to reopen its stores, it also is closing some permanently.

On May 5, the department store retailer detailed plans to reopen its stores in a “phased approach.” In the same announcement, it said planned to permanently close 16 of its 116 full-line stores.

Read more here.


Imports to see double-digit declines

Import volume is expected to stay low even as stores begin to reopen.

Imports at major U.S. retail container ports are expected to see double-digit year-over-year declines this spring and summer as the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic continue, according to the Global Port Tracker report released by the National Retail Federation and Hackett Associates.

Read more here


J.C. Penney starts opening doors in phased reopening plan

J.C. Penney Co. Inc. is including social distancing, hygiene measures, and contactless payment in its store reopening protocols.

The struggling department store retailer, which is reportedly approaching filing for bankruptcy, is gradually reopening its doors. As of Friday, May 8, 16 J.C. Penney stores across Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, and Utah are open for in-store shopping and contactless curbside pickup. Fifteen stores across Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Kentucky, Missouri, Nebraska, Texas, and Virginia are open for contactless curbside pickup only. 

Read more here


Belk reopening some stores — but only for 6 hours a day

Shoppers at Belk will have to plan their trips accordingly.

The department store company, which operates nearly 300 stores in 16 Southern states, has reopened its doors in South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Florida, Texas, Alabama, and Mississippi. Its stores in North Carolina will open on May 11.

Read more here


Parent of Men’s Wearhouse opening 300 stores by end of May  

Another national retailer has announced a phased reopening of its stores.

Tailored Brands, whose banners include Men’s Wearhouse, Jos. A. Bank and K&G, expects to open approximately 300 stores by Memorial Day, starting with locations in Georgia and Texas this week. The retailer is also reviewing plans to reopen its Moores Clothing for Men stores in Canada.

Read more here.


Consumer impulse purchases jump in April

Americans spent more on impulse purchases post-pandemic than before the outbreak.

Consumer spending on impulse purchases increased 18% in April from January, according to Slickdeals, which reported that cleaning supplies, hand sanitizer and toilet paper were the most purchased products. (See end of article for top 10 impulse purchases.).  The average American spent $182.98 on impulse buys in April, up from $155.03 in January. (The research was based on a survey of 2,000 consumers commissioned by crowdsourced shopping platform Slickdeals and conducted by OnePoll.)

Read more here


Survey: Consumers pivot toward e-commerce during COVID-19

A new survey suggests consumers plan to shop online more as they visit brick-and-mortar stores less due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the COVID-19 Connected Flash Study from artificial intelligence-based consumer data platform Resonate, 86% of surveyed consumers say they are avoiding physical stores to at least a moderate extent. This includes 20% who are avoiding stores to an extremely large extent, 22% to a very large extent, 22% to a large extent, and 22% to a moderate extent. Only 14% are avoiding physical stores to less than a moderate extent, including 7% to a small extent, 3% to a very small extent, and 4% to an extremely small extent.

Read more here


Survey: Cleaning is key to making consumers more likely to visiting stores again

As retailers begin to reopen their doors, a new survey sheds light on what they need to do to make their stores inviting to customers.

Consumers ranked frequent cleaning and sanitizing as the top (66%) measure that would make them more likely or more comfortable with visiting physical spaces in a survey conducted by the International Council of Shopping Centers. It was followed by having more hand sanitizer stations and/or disinfecting cloths available for shoppers (62%); seeing staff wear gloves and/or masks (49%); requiring staff/employee training on hygienic protocols (48%); implementing measures that facilitate in-store social distance (48%); and putting in place new occupancy limits (44%).

Read more here
 


Three emerging digital retail trends caused by COVID-19

Retailers are rapidly adapting to pandemic-related shifts in consumer behavior.

As the COVID-19 crisis drags on, its impact on how customers shop becomes more pronounced. With the utility of physical stores limited by legal restrictions, social distancing, and consumer reluctance to visit, retailers are turning to digital technologies and strategies to weather the pandemic. Here are three notable trends. 

Read more here


Three-fourths of Kimco’s top 50 tenants paid rent in April

One of the top nation’s top owners of necessity-based centers claims to have fared well through the pandemic-afflicted first quarter.

Kimco, which operates more than 400 grocery-anchored center, reported a 98.6% occupancy rate portfolio-wide in Q1, a jump of 80 base points from the same quarter last year.

Read more here


Commentary: Mobile app security in the midst of a pandemic

Facing the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown, major retailers have had to depend more heavily on mobile apps to stay connected to customers and keep business moving. 

For example, many coffee shops, restaurants and grocery stores are asking customers to make orders for pickup through their or food delivery mobile apps, and those stores whose physical locations are completely shuttered depend entirely on mobile apps to keep generating revenue.

Read more here


Costco rolls out national same-day prescription delivery

Costco prescription delivery via Instacart is now available nationally.

After recently expanding on a November 2019 same-day prescription delivery pilot with Instacart to seven states plus Washington, D.C., Costco is now offering the service at more than 500 pharmacies across 42 states including Washington, D.C., with nearly 100% coverage in each state.

Read more here.


Six Tips for Protecting Retailers, Employees from Safety, Legal Risks of COVID-19

Grocery retailers and their employees have fast become some of the most essential service providers during the COVID-19 pandemic. As with many other businesses, grocery retailers were forced to develop new guidelines and virus protection protocols on the fly while also navigating rapidly changing national, state and local directives. Now, many are finding themselves on the legal or media firing line for not doing enough to protect workers out of the gate.

Read more here


GetSwift helps Floridians in need obtain daily meals

A delivery management automation platform is providing logistical support to ensure disadvantaged Floridians have fresh-cooked meals seven days a week.

GetSwift will provide order management, delivery and routing support to a crisis management program run by the state of Florida to sustain daily meal delivery during the coronavirus pandemic. The company will partner with Feed The Need of Florida and Meals of Love, in conjunction with the Florida Department of Elder Affairs (DOEA) and restaurant partners such as the 4R Restaurant Group, operator of 4 Rivers Smokehouse restaurants, in the program.

Read more here


Canada’s Aldo Group seeks bankruptcy protection, citing COVID-19 impact

The Aldo Group Inc. wants to restructure its debt via bankruptcy.

The Montreal-based footwear and accessories retailer has started a court restructuring process and has obtained protection through the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act in Canada. It has applied for similar protection in the U.S., and plans to do the same in Switzerland.  

Read more here
 


Brookfield’s relief plan for retailers: $5 billion

Brookfield is betting five billion bucks on retailers to make it through the COVID-19 pandemic.

Brookfield Asset Management issued a press release pledging that amount to assist in recapitalizing troubled retailers operating in markets where the company’s malls are located. Called the Retail Revitalization Program, it will concentrate on retailers with $250 million or more in normalized revenues that have been operating for at least two years.

Read more here


Ulta to reopen about 180 stores on May 11; some to offer hair services

Customers can forget about testing products at Ulta Beauty — at least for now.

The beauty giant has joined other retailers in reopening stores in select states, and is doing so with an abundance of safety measures in place. Ulta, which has debuted curbside pickup in more than 700 of its 1,254 locations nationwide, will reopen approximately 180 stores on Monday, May 11.

Read more here


Kohl’s: About 25% of stores open by next week

Kohl’s Corp. is the latest retailer to announce significant changes to its stores as it begins to reopen locations that were shuttered during the pandemic.

In what it called a “phased approach, the department store company opened stores in four states — Arkansas, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Utah — earlier this week. It plans to open stores in 10 additional states on Monday, May 11. The new states include Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Georgia, Idaho, Mississippi, Montana and Texas, as well as Florida and Tennessee where a majority of Kohl’s stores will open.

Read more here


Recovery likely in ‘fits and starts,’ according to NRF chief economist

With some governors lifting stay-at-home orders across the country, economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic is likely to come gradually and may vary by location.

That’s according to NRF chief economist Jack Kleinhenz, who said that it’s difficult to predict at this time when getting back to work or shopping in a pre-virus manner will occur as households are likely to” tiptoe back in rather than making an immediate return to the lives they experienced before.”

Read more here


CVS Health Q1 earnings, sales jump as customers stockpiled medications, other items

CVS Health reported surging earnings and revenue above Wall Street estimates as customers stockpiled medications and other essentials ahead of the spreading COVID-19 pandemic. 

But on its earnings call with analysts, CVS executives said that stores saw a drop in traffic after the quarter ended as people stayed home amid shelter in place orders and a decline in doctor’s appointments that leads to fewer new prescriptions. 

Read more here. 


Exclusive Q&A: Kendra Scott fast tracks curbside for Mother’s Day

A fast-growing specialty jewelry retailer is integrating omnichannel transactions into its order management system for efficient curbside pickup.

Chain Store Age recently interviewed Jim Dunlap, CIO of Kendra Scott, about the retailer’s efforts to quickly stand up a curbside pickup program as stores are closed during the COVID-19 pandemic. Kendra Scott also needed to roll out its curbside program in time for Mother’s Day, an important peak period for the retailer.

Read more here


The four things grocery center tenants should do post-pandemic

One of the most amazing occurrences during of the COVID-19 pandemic, to the mind of Erik Rosentrauch, is the blooming of Walmart’s product delivery programs, including a $10 option for two-hour home delivery.

“Walmart has hired 150,000 in three weeks. That’s a faster aggregation of people than the troops that were drafted in World War II,” said the CEO of Fuel Partnerships, a marketing agency serving several large supermarket chains. 

Read more here


Discounters see the biggest surge in online grocery shoppers

The largest year-over-year percentage-point increases in online grocery shoppers are not occurring at traditional supermarkets.

According to the “U.S. Online Grocery Survey 2020” from Coresight Research, 52% of respondents who had purchased groceries online in the past 12 months made at least one purchase at Walmart. This represents a 15-percentage-point increase from 37% in 2019. 

Read more here


Amazon, Alibaba team with Homeland Security to prevent COVID-19 fraud

The world’s two biggest e-tailers are cooperating with a new partner in response to pandemic-related e-commerce crime.

Amazon and Alibaba are working with Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center (IPR Center) criminal investigators in a new public-private partnership to combat fraud and other illegal activity surrounding COVID-19.

Read more here.


Gap Inc. to reopen up to 800 stores by end of May

Gap Inc. will start reopening its stores, starting with a small selection of locations in Texas this weekend, as COVID-19 lockdown restrictions slowly begin to ease in some areas.

“We are actively working with the local government, led by health official guidelines, and in partnership with RILA and industry peers, to open our stores when and where it is safe to do so,” the company stated. 

Read more here.


Albertsons assists digital shoppers in real time

Albertsons Companies Inc. is deploying artificial intelligence (AI)-based virtual assistant and live chat solutions for online customers.

The supermarket giant will roll out the Intelligent Engagement Platform from Nuance as demand for online grocery shopping grows during the COVID-19 pandemic. The AI-powered application provides real-time answers to customer inquiries such as how the delivery service works, item availability, online order tracking status, and store locations and hours.

Read more here


Chili’s, other retailers adapt to COVID-19 with Yelp

Retailers including Chili’s are leveraging features of the Yelp app to communicate with customers and provide needed services during the COVID-19 pandemic.

National restaurant chain Chili’s Grill & Bar has been using the Yelp waitlist feature to help manage curbside takeout orders to ensure both customers and associates are safely social distancing and adhering to shelter-in-place guidelines. Chili’s tracks customers picking up their curbside orders from their vehicle with waitlist, adding “table numbers” on parking spots, to create a seamless curbside experience. 

Read more here


Nordstrom preps to reopen stores — with lots of changes

Fewer fitting rooms, no beauty makeovers, plexiglass dividers at checkouts and a limited number of customers allowed in a store.

Those are some of the changes that Nordstrom is making to its stores as it prepares to reopen its doors in a “phased approach.” 

Read more here.


Walgreens to resume standard operating hours

Walgreens stores are getting back to some semblance of normal, but with added safety measures.

The company announced that, as of May 5, most of its stores nationwide are resuming standard operating hours.

Read more here.


Exclusive Q&A: Wellness retailer meets healthy order volume growth

The Nue Co. is leveraging a third-party microfulfillment provider to ensure smooth shipments during the COVID-19 crisis.

The California-based, direct-to-consumer specialty retailer of natural supplements is partnering with New York-based supply chain startup Ohi to maintain accurate, on-time delivery as demand for its products surges in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Read more here.


Let’s Pave CEO goes on the road to support healthcare workers amid COVID-19

Let’s Pave has recognized the toll COVID 19 has taken on assisted living communities across the country.

In an effort to provide a well-deserved ‘Thank You’ and support to those medical professionals, aides, and staff members who are risking their health and wellbeing, the paving services and pavement management solutions company raised more than $30,000 in 24 hours which is being distributed to various healthcare and assisted living facilities throughout the country, starting in the Massachusetts area.

Read more here


Federal installs permanent curbside pick-up program

Federal Realty has decided to make a COVID-19-inspired curbside pickup program a permanent feature at its centers, something Kimco did last week.

Branded as The Pick-Up, the program is available to tenants at all of Federal’s shopping centers in the Greater Philadelphia market. Customers can place orders by phone or online and arrange for same-day pick-up at a time most convenient for them.

Read more here


Five Actions to Protect Your Business and Position It For Success Post-Pandemic

[Retailers are reopening their doors on a landscape that will be changed forever. There will be a greater gulf between the winners and losers. Retail strategy firm HRC suggests five steps retailers should take to best position themselves for success.]

Malls and stores are slowly starting to reopen as governments remove COVID-19 shelter-in-place measures. We’re already witnessing a cautious reopening take shape in a number of states and Canadian provinces.

Read more here


Survey: COVID-19 will permanently shift online shopping habits

Curbside pickup is one omnichannel shopping service that will remain popular after the COVID-19 pandemic subsides.

According to a new consumer survey from distributed commerce network CommerceHub, 59% of respondents said they are more likely to use curbside pickup following the coronavirus outbreak. This figure increased to 75% among respondents who subscribe to multiple delivery services (including Amazon Prime). 

Read more here


Express expects to reopen 300 stores by Memorial Day; to test curbside pickup

Express is the latest retailer to weigh in on its reopening plans for stores closed amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The apparel retailer said it expects to reopen approximately 300 of its stores before Memorial Day, doing so in accordance with the latest federal and state guidelines and with adherence to new health and safety protocols. Beginning with a few stores that opened last week in Georgia and South Carolina, Express plans on taking a phased approach with the pace and staffing calibrated to mall traffic and consumer demand.

Read more here


Lowe’s ups employee support with new bonuses; requires workers to wear masks

Lowe’s announced additional measures to support its employees and customers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The home improvement said it is providing a second $80 million special payment to hourly workers. Also, as of May 1, all Lowe's employees are required to wear a face mask when working in stores or at customers' homes.

Read more here.


Ulta Beauty goes curbside as stores remain closed

Ulta Beauty Inc. is providing online and mobile shoppers a new fulfillment option.

The beauty giant’s stores have been temporarily closed since Thursday, March 19 due to COVID-19, while its e-commerce site and mobile app remain operational. However, Ulta is now offering curbside pickup at more than 350 select stores where it has determined it is safe to do so. The offering is an extension of Ulta’s existing (and paused) buy-online-pickup-in-store service and uses a similar process. All customers can also continue to shop at ulta.com or on the retailer’s app for home delivery. 

Read more here


Albertsons, Ulta weather COVID-19 storm with cloud capabilities

Several retailers are leveraging Google Cloud solutions to guarantee customer service and e-commerce performance as COVID-19 strains resources.

Major grocery retailer Albertsons Companies is utilizing the newly launched Google Cloud Rapid Response Virtual Agent solution to manage inbound call volumes and address customers’ more basic questions, such as hours of operation, pick and delivery options, and order status.

Read more here


Dunkin’ runs to customers with new delivery partner

A leading coffee retailer is expanding its on-demand delivery options as customers continue placing digital orders during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dunkin' is now including Uber Eats as an on-demand delivery partner. With this new collaboration, Dunkin' is now available for delivery through Uber Eats at over 1,700 restaurants, with more than 4,000 total locations nationwide to offer the service by the end of May.

Read more here.


Exclusive: Shopify aligns platform with retail’s ‘new normal’

A leading digital commerce platform is responding to needs retailers will have both during and after the COVID-19 pandemic.

In an interview with Chain Store Age, Arpan Podduturi, director of product at Shopify, explained how the company is attempting to aid retailers struggling with sudden surges in online demand as a result of COVID-19.

Read more here


Accenture: Consumers more focused on health, eco impacts of purchases

The COVID-19 pandemic is likely to alter consumer behaviors permanently and cause lasting structural changes to the retail and consumer goods industries.

That’s according to findings of an Accenture survey of more than 3,000 consumers in 15 countries across five continents.

Read more here


Kroger to offer free COVID-19 testing to employees

The Kroger Co. is taking additional measures to protect the health of its frontline employees.

The nation’s largest supermarket retailer said that, starting this month, it is making free COVID-19 testing available to employees who work at stores, distribution centers and other facilities, based on symptoms and medical need. Employees will be able to get a self-administered test kit or make an appointment for a test at a drive-thru testing site run by Kroger’s health-care division, Kroger Health.

Read more here.


Malls re-open this week in Tampa and Atlanta

Florida and Georgia will see several malls re-opening this month.

Unibail Rodamco Westfield announced that its Tampa area malls in Brandon, Countryside, and Citrus Park, Fla., will be back in business on May 15.

Read more here.


Hy-Vee streamlines communications amid COVID-19 crisis

 

A regional Midwestern grocer is ensuring employees have access to the latest safety protocols.

Hy-Vee Inc. is deploying the Retail Zipline communication platform across the entire company in an effort to directly communicate with its more than 85,000 employees during the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Post-pandemic, the platform will continue to serve as the primary communication method to ensure all stores are delivering to brand standards. 

Read more here.


J. Crew files for bankruptcy

J. Crew Group has become the first major retailer to file for bankruptcy protection amid the COVID-19 crisis.

The ailing apparel retailer’s parent company (Chinos Holdings) filed for Chapter 11 protection in the federal bankruptcy court for the Eastern District of Virginia. J. Crew said it has reached an agreement with its lenders to restructure its debt whereby the lenders will convert about $1.65 billion of its debt into equity. As part of the agreement, Madewell, under the leadership of CEO Libby Wadle, will remain part of J. Crew Group. The retailer had previously planned to spin off the popular brand as a public company.

Read more here


ShopKick: Consumers trying new retailers more often; spending less on non-essentials

Americans’ shopping habits continue to evolve amid the COVID-19 crisis.

New updates and stricter regulations paired with growing concerns about the virus led to drastic changes in consumer shopping behavior in just a matter of weeks, according to a new survey by Shopkick. After comparing the new data with two previous surveys – the first in mid-March and the other in early April — the shopping rewards app found key differences in consumer behavior related to in-store shopping, spending on non-essential items, health precautions and more.

Read more here.


Whole Foods Market to offer free masks to customers

Whole Foods Market is extending its efforts 

Starting the week of May 4, the Amazon-owned grocer will be offering free, disposable masks to all customers nationwide when they arrive at the store to shop. The masks will be available at the entrance of Whole Foods stores to customers who don't already have their own face covering. 

Read more here.


Modell’s bankruptcy proceedings get another reprieve; landlords object

In a closely watched retail bankruptcy case, a federal judge has granted Modell’s Sporting Goods a second suspension of its bankruptcy proceedings amid the COVID-19 crisis.

The retailer was granted its first suspension on March 27, allowing it to defer April 1 rent due to its store’s landlords. Law firm Cole Schotz P.C. said it secured the suspension to counter the operational shutdown of Modell’s store closing sales caused by COVID-19. In making what it called “ground-breaking law,’ Cole Schotz said it relied on an infrequently used bankruptcy law provision in a way no party had ever done, allowing the sporting goods retailer to temporarily freeze its Chapter 11 case until at least April 30.

Read more here.


Publix Q1 sales up about $1 billion due to COVID-19 crisis

Publix reported a big jump in its first-quarter sales amid the coronavirus pandemic, the company reported Friday.

The regional grocery giant said its sales rose to $11.2 billion for the three months ended March 28, up from $9.7 billion in the year-ago period. Same-store sales increased 14.4%. 

Read more here.


KFC honors mom during COVID–19 - virtually

KFC is launching a virtual Mother's Day experience on Messenger from Facebook.

Beginning May 1, customers can visit the KFC Facebook page to send a custom invitation to share a virtual Mother’s Day meal. Aimed at families who may not be able to celebrate together this year amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, the service enables customers to coordinate a meal time, personalize their invitation with their mother’s name and a family photo, and receive reminders to connect via Messenger video chat on Mother's Day. 

Read more here.


Attorney: How to deal with landlord-friendly leases

So many property owners and their tenants are struggling to stay in business, let alone cash-flow positive, through the COVID-19 crisis. It’s been almost two months since the World Health Organization declared it a pandemic, and stay-at-home orders in many states are not anticipated to be fully lifted in the foreseeable future. Tenants and landlords must work together, and with their lenders, to change lease and loan terms to enable tenants to survive and landlords to ensure long term viability. 

Read more here.


Two types of retailers who will thrive post-COVID-19

We are watching the COVID-19 pandemic throw retail into disarray, but who might come out ahead?

Inevitably, COVID-19 will fade and life (and business) will resume. However, experts generally agree there will be a “new normal” where things won’t quite be the same as they were pre-outbreak. 

Read more here.


Walmart ups competition with Prime Now

Walmart is introducing two-hour delivery as COVID-19 generates increased demand.

The discount titan is accelerating rollout of Express Delivery, a new service that delivers items to customers’ doors in less than two hours. Walmart has accelerated the development of the service in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, piloting Express Delivery in 100 stores since mid-April. 

Read more here.


At Home: About 50% of stores fully open

At Home is reopening stores with a ‘two-carts apart’ mantra.

The value-oriented home décor company said it is reopening its stores as local and state regulations permit, with approximately half of its 218 stores fully open to foot traffic as of May 1. Of the locations that remain closed, about 70 offer curbside pickup and/or contactless next-day local delivery (as permitted by local rules). And over 80% of the company’s total store base now have buy-online-pickup-in-store (BOPIS) capabilities.

Read more here.


NRF launches online information center for reopening stores

The National Retail Federation is offering detailed guidance for retailers as they start to reopen their stores. 

The NRF’s new “Operation Open Doors – Path to Reopen Retail” is an online solution center that provides operational guidelines and considerations for safe opening of stores after the COVID-19 health crisis. The Operation prioritizes four functional areas for America's retail sector: health and safety; people and personnel; logistics and supply chain; and litigation and liability.  The resources will be available to the public for a limited time before they become members-only resources.

Read more here


Retailers, malls reopen in Texas as state lifts some restrictions

Texas reopened its economy on May 1, and some malls and stores in the state are following suit and reopening stores.  

The malls and shopping centers that have reopened, which include Dallas’ NorthPark Center, Grapevine Mills and outlet centers in Allen and Grand Prairie, are on a reduced operating schedule and following other safety precautions, reported The Dallas News. And the same goes for stores.  

Read more here


Amazon Q1 sales up 26%; to spend entire Q2 operating profit on COVID-expenses

Amazon dropped a bombshell with its first-quarter earnings report.

“If you’re a shareowner in Amazon, you may want to take a seat, because we’re not thinking small,” stated CEO Jeff Bezos. “Under normal circumstances, in this coming Q2, we’d expect to make some $4 billion or more in operating profit. But these aren’t normal circumstances. Instead, we expect to spend the entirety of that $4 billion, and perhaps a bit more, on COVID-related expenses getting products to customers and keeping employees safe.”

Read more here.


Study: Younger consumers tend their gardens during pandemic

Online purchases of home and garden products among consumers 18-55 are flourishing as COVID-19 restricts their movements.

According to analysis of transactions made through digital payments provider Klarna, Gen Z (ages 18-23), millennials (ages 24-39) and Gen X (ages 40-55) all increased their share of spending on home and garden products. Share of spending on these items—such as furniture, tools and home improvement, pet supplies, kitchenware, plants and flowers, and cleaning products—grew by 40% among Gen Z, 4% among millennials and 2% among Gen X week-over-week in the week ended April 25.

Read more here.


Walmart hits goal of hiring 200,000 employees during pandemic

Walmart Inc. has hired 200,000 associates in its stores, clubs, distribution centers and fulfillment centers since March 19.
 
“We are humbled to be able to give an opportunity to so many Americans to work, often serving as a bridge for employment, while helping Walmart better serve customers during this time of increased demand,” said Donna Morris, chief people officer, Walmart.

Read more here.


 

 


Retailers welcome expansion of federal lending program to bigger businesses

The National Retail Federation welcomed the Federal Reserve’s decision to allow larger mid-size businesses hit by COVID-19 to participate in its $600 billion Main Street Lending Program.

Under the new guidelines, businesses with up to 15,000 employees and $5 billion in revenues will be eligible to apply. The move was proposed by NRF earlier this month.

Read more here.


Newegg maintains same-day fulfillment during pandemic

A tech-focused e-tailer is building up its logistics capabilities to avoid COVID-19-related supply chain disruptions.

Newegg’s third-party logistics (3PL) operation has increased production and made significant hires across the U.S. and within its fulfillment network to offset supply chain challenges posed by COVID-19. Newegg and other clients that use its Newegg Logistics in-house fulfillment network have mostly avoided supply chain failures, according to the retailer.

Read more here.


Denny’s expands into grocery, meal kits as COVID-19 continues

Another fast-casual retailer is finding new ways to sell its ingredients as dine-in service remains banned in much of the U.S.

Denny’s is operating Denny's Market, a free delivery service offering grocery staples like bread, assorted meats and cheese, eggs and toilet paper, at select locations across the country. Orders for pick-up or delivery can be placed online, via the Denny’s app or by phone. 

Read more here


Parent company of Coach Q3 sales fall 20%; details store reopening strategy

Tapestry reported that sales fell nearly 20% during its third-quarter as 90% of its global stores were either closed or open with reduced hours amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The parent company of Coach, Kate Spade and Stuart Weitzman also revealed its strategy for reopening stores. Starting Friday, May 1st, Tapestry will reopen approximately 40 stores in North America for contactless curbside or storefront pickup service only. The company is planning a “phased approach” to welcome shoppers back into its stores, which will follow enhanced safety measures. It will provide gloves and masks to employees, offer sanitizers and wipes at the cash-wrap and limit the number of customers in line with recommended social distancing practices.

Read more here.


ServiceChannel: Big problems face retailers in re-openings

Nail salons and barber shops have been given the approval to re-open in Georgia and Simon Property Group will be opening 49 malls and outlets the first week of May. That’s good news for retailers and restaurants dying to get back in business, but opening during the COVID-19 pandemic poses special problems. 

Read more here.


Five Below reopened 100-plus locations this week

Five Below has started reopening its stores, with more to come. 

The extreme-value tween and teen retailer is also slowing its store expansion amid the COVID-19 pandemic. It has reduced its new store opening target for fiscal 2020 to 100 to 120 stores as compared to the original target of 180 stores.

Read more here.


Starbucks details plan to reopen 90% of U.S. stores by June 1 — with big changes

There are some major changes afoot — temporarily — as Starbucks Corp. ramps up to open its U.S. stores, which have been closed amid the COVID-19 outbreak.

Starting on May 4, the coffee giant will begin opening its stores in the U.S. and Canada. It expects to have approximately 90% of all company-operated U.S. Starbucks stores reopened by early June in various formats with enhanced safety protocols and modified schedules. The emphasis will be on mobile order and pay. Starbucks noted that pre-COVID, 80% of U.S. store customer visits were for to-go take-away.

Read more here.


Analysis: Amazon dominated web traffic in March

Consumers turned to a familiar e-commerce site as the COVID-19 pandemic spread across the globe.

According to data analysis from financial information site LearnBonds, Amazon had 4.06 billion visitors during March 2020. This was more than the combined 3.85 billion visitors to eBay, Apple, Walmart, Rakuten, Samsung.com, and Apple.com combined.

Read more here.


Deloitte: Consumers shift to non-discretionary goods during COVID-19

U.S. consumers are prioritizing food over vacations.

According to a new biweekly email survey of 1,000 U.S. consumers by Deloitte, respondents are focusing their purchases on life’s necessities as the COVID-19 pandemic continues. The survey measured net spending intent—the percentage of respondents indicating that they will spend more minus the percentage of those who say they will spend less—in a variety of product categories. 

Read more here.


Best Buy to start reopening stores—by appointment only; resuming home ops

Best Buy Corp. will gradually start reopening some stores but, initially, customers will need an appointment to enter. It also is resuming home delivery and other at-home services.

Starting in May, the consumer electronics giant will open select locations for in-store consultations. Customers will be able to schedule appointments (by phone, online or app) with dedicated sales associates to come into a store and discuss their technology needs. The service will launch in about 200 of Best Buy’s approximate 1,000 U.S. stores. 

Read more here.


WeChat assists retailers in face of COVID-19

WeChat is introducing measures to facilitate retail recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic in China.

The leading Chinese payment, messaging and social media platform has launched an official “WeChat Retail Growth Plan.” This includes opening up the WeChat Live livestream communication platform to help businesses interact with customers and generate sales via livestreaming. Consumers can watch the livestream while making purchases and communicating in real time.

Read more here.


Construction group provides COVID-19 job safety guidance

The Construction Industry Safety Coalition has released updated guidance for construction employers, employees and contractors regarding COVID-19 exposure prevention, preparedness and response.

The Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Plan for Construction describes how to prevent worker exposure to coronavirus, protective measures to be taken on the job site, personal protective equipment and work practice controls to be used, cleaning and disinfecting procedures, and what to do if a worker becomes sick. The plan, which includes forms that can be downloaded and customized for individual businesses, served as the basis for materials provided for the COVID-19 Job Site Safety Stand held April 16.

Read more here.


COVID-19 data tool becomes available to help retailers assess store locations

A software company serving has created a free tool to help retailers assess their store locations during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“So much data about the situation is pouring out from governments and health care organizations, but not of it is relevant to retailers,” said Pranav Tyagi, CEO of Tango, which creates software for retailers to perform integrated workplace management.

Read more here.


Starbucks same-store sales fall 10% amid COVID-19 pandemic

Starbucks Corp.’s second-quarter sales took a hit as the COVID-19 outbreak affected sales in its two most important markets, the U.S. and China. 

Read more here.


UPS, CVS partner to deliver Rx drugs via drones to big retirement community

CVS Health and a subsidiary of UPS are partnering to help seniors at the nation’s largest retirement community during the COVID-19 crisis.

Beginning in early May, UPS’ Flight Forward unit will use drones to deliver prescription medications from a CVS pharmacy to The Villages, the nation’s largest retirement community. Located in Central Florida and spanning some 32 square miles, it is home to more than 135,000 residents.

Read more here.


Ikea furloughs U.S. employees as stores remain closed

Ikea has joined many other U.S. retailers in furloughing its hourly employees.

The Swedish home furnishings giant said that, despite its best efforts to keep its 18,000 U.S. employees paid, it is furloughing its hourly U.S. employees along with members of its service office. Most of Ikea's U.S. business has been closed since March 16.

Read more here.


Survey: Digital grocery sales hit new record as COVID-19 pandemic continues

Online grocery sales for home delivery and store pickup in April 2020 reached a new record.

According to the latest Brick Meets Click/Symphony RetailAI online grocery survey conducted April 22-25, online grocery sales reached $5.3 billion for a 30-day period, representing a 37% increase over March sales. 

Read more here.


NPD: Americans bought a lot of TVs last week

Americans are spending big on technology during the COVID-19 pandemic.

U.S. consumer tech sales increased 23% year-over-year and 29% during the week ending April 18 to nearly $1.8 billion, according to The NPD Group. The increase topped the 21% increase tracked during the March week ending March 21. 

Read more here.


BigCommerce, FedEx in new e-commerce offering for small, mid-sized businesses

BigCommerce is collaborating with FedEx to give SMBs using the BigCommerce platform access to the FedEx portfolio of e-commerce solutions. With this enhanced feature set, SMBs on BigCommerce can receive enterprise-like shipping capabilities to provide their customers with a more premium delivery experience. BigCommerce retailers that leverage this partnership will receive discounts up to 40% on FedEx Ground and 50% on FedEx Express services. 

Read more here.


Survey: COVID-19 accelerates consumer demand for touchless fixtures in restrooms

Americans have reordered their priorities as to how facilities should improve their restrooms.

According to a survey from Bradley Corp., 60% of Americans said that their preference for touchless handwashing fixtures in public restrooms has risen a great deal since the pandemic; 30% said their preference has increased somewhat. In addition, 91% of Americans said they believe it’s extremely or somewhat important that public restrooms are equipped with touchless fixtures.

Read more here.


Simon plans to re-open 49 malls and outlets in May

The nation’s biggest mall owner is about to make the nation’s grandest move back into business.

An internal memo from Simon Property Group obtained by CNBC revealed its plan to re-open 49 malls and outlets centers in 10 states between May 1 and May 4.  

Read more here.


Provider of identity verification solutions offering free address validation

Data enhancement solutions from Melissa, a leading provider of global address, name, email, phone, and identity verification solutions, are being leveraged by a number of on-demand prepared food, grocery, and retail delivery companies across North America. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, the companies are realizing critical value from address accuracy tools that pinpoint delivery locations and help ensure smooth delivery to people observing stay-at-home and shelter-in-place orders. 

Read more here.


Report: Amazon may have violated safety regulations

A letter from the New York attorney general reportedly says Amazon’s response to COVID-19 in its New York facilities may not meet some legal standards.

According to Reuters, the office of New York attorney general Letitia James sent a letter to Amazon on Wed., April 22 stating that health and safety measures taken by the e-tailer in response to the COVID-19 pandemic are “inadequate” to the point they potentially violate provisions of the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA), and that some Amazon warehouses should be closed for sanitization and disinfection.

Read more here.


Starting May 4, Chico’s will roll out three phases of reopening stores.

Chico’s FAS will begin a three-part store reopening plan on May 4. But it won’t be business as usual.

The women's apparel and accessories retailer, whose banners include Chico’s, White House | Black Market and Soma, said that, starting May 4, it will roll out three phases of reopening stores, beginning with the fulfillment of national orders through physical locations using store inventories.

Read more here.


CVS ramping up COVID-19 testing to 1,000 sites; Walgreens also expanding sites

CVS Health plans a dramatic expansion of COVID-19 testing in about a month’s time. 

The company said it expects to have up to 1,000 locations across the country offering self-swab COVID-19 testing by the end of May, with the goal of processing up to 1.5 million tests per month. It noted, however, that the expansion is “subject to availability of supplies and lab capacity.”

Read more here.


Havertys reopening its stores; slashes headcount

Havertys is planning to resume operations within a week and reduce its workforce.

The furniture retailer expects to reopen 108 of its 120 stores on May 1 and the remaining locations by mid-May. It also will begin resuming its distribution and delivery operations. (Havertys closed its stores on March 19, and halted deliveries on March 21.)

Read more here.


IRI: Product demand peaks but remains higher than last year amid COVID-19

Overall product demand during the week ended April 12 has leveled from the mid-March panic shopping peak that accompanied the COVID-19 outbreak, but remains up 13% compared to the prior-year period.

That’s according to IRI’s newly launched IRI CPG Demand Index, which tracks consumer product goods demand in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis. The metric measures weekly changes in consumer purchases, by dollar sales, against the year-ago period across departments, categories and retail formats.

Read more here.


David’s Bridal to reopen all stores by June 1; to offer virtual styling

The nation’s largest bridal retailer is providing online style assistance during the COVID-19 pandemic, with an eye toward reopening its shuttered stores.

As stores that were temporarily closed due to COVID-19 begin to reopen, David’s Bridal is launching virtual stylist and virtual appointment services. Over 300 stylists from across the country will be accessible to customers, from engagement to wedding day and beyond.

Read more here


States looking to reopen for business include…

A number of states have announced reopening plans that allow for non-essential businesses to get back to work.  

Here is a list of some of the latest state-by-state COVID-19 updates from the National Lumber and Building Material Dealers Association as reported by Chain Store Age sister publication HBSDealer. 

Read more here.


Kroger requires workers to wear masks; to pilot COVID-19 testing for employees

The Kroger Co. continues to add new measures to protect its customers and employees amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

As of April 26, the supermarket giant is requiring all employees to wear a mask while at work. Kroger will provide the masks; employees are also free to use their own suitable masks or facial covering.

Read more here.


E-commerce transactions skyrocket in two categories

Consumers stuck in their homes due to COVID-19 are focusing on comfort and personal accessories. 

According to analysis of transactions made through payments provider Klarna, the volume of e-commerce transactions in the furniture and jewelry categories among consumers who use the Klarna payment app increased 60% week-over-week in the week ending Saturday, April 25. 

Read more here.


Giant Food offers virtual nutrition services

Giant Food will be offering free, weekly online nutrition and healthy living classes aimed at all consumers, as well as content for individuals with chronic illnesses such as diabetes and heart disease. These virtual classes are designed to serve as an extra preventative measure to ensure healthy living habits between non-urgent doctor visits which may be delayed due to COVID-19 healthcare demands.

Read more here.


Report: Amazon brings social distancing to third-party vetting

Retailers who want to sell via Amazon Marketplace must reportedly participate in a video conference.

According to Reuters, Amazon is expanding a pilot it launched in February 2020 to conduct video interviews of prospective third-party sellers on Amazon Marketplace. The program began in January with in-person meetings, but the e-tail giant shifted to virtual meetings in February due to concerns over spreading COVID-19.  

Read more here.


Texas malls open for curbside pick-up

Texas Governor Greg Abbot allowed malls and shopping centers to sell online and deliver purchases curbside beginning last Friday, and several jumped at the chance.

Read more here.


Retailers lay out phased-out approach to reopening stores

Increased sanitization measures and social distancing protocols for customers as well as employees play key roles in a plan for re-opening stores that builds on the examples of retailers that have remained open during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Read more here


Bed Bath & Beyond converts 25% of its stores into regional fulfillment centers

Bed Bath & Beyond has made a quick pivot to meet surging online demand during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Read more here.


Kantar: Target is the retailer that consumers most likely to try in coming weeks

A disappointing experience at their regular stores when COVID-19 started is causing many consumers to explore new options. 
 
Thirty-four percent of consumers expect to try a new retailer in the coming weeks as the pandemic continues and forces shoppers to evolve routines to find products and fit budgets, according to a survey by Kantar. Target was the retailer that consumers were most likely to try, at 20%, followed by Walgreens and Dollar General at 14% each and Family Dollar at 13%.

Read more here.


Westfield puts its malls to work for their communities

A closed mall is not an inoperative mall—not if it’s a Westfield mall, at least.

Unibail Rodamco Westfield has summoned all of its shopping centers in the United States to go on COVID-19 alert and help drive donations to nonprofits assisting the homeless, the economically disadvantaged, seniors, and children. 

Read more here.


Pennsylvania Construction to resume May 1

Construction in Pennsylvania is slated to resume on May 1, according to Gov. Tom Wolf. The Keystone State halted almost all construction work, except for projects considered essential, related to healthcare facilities, or by companies who received a waiver to continue from the state, on March 21 when Wolf closed all businesses his administration deemed non-life sustaining as part of the plan to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Read more here.


Study: Men feel safer overall than women about returning to stores

Consumers feel the safest shopping in grocery stores and drug stores — but some more than others.

As stores begin to reopen, First Insight asked U.S. consumers which store formats they felt safe in while shopping. Grocery stores topped the list, at 54%, followed by drug store chains, 50%; big-box retailers, 45%; small businesses, 43%; warehouse clubs, 43%; and department stores, 37%.

Read more here.


Report: Prepping for the 'new normal'

A new report on what to expect from a post-COVID-19 “new normal” suggests that it could be more normal than new.

In “Evaluating the New Normal for Commercial Real Estate,” Avison-Young examined post-9/11 developments to help presage what new social order could we could be facing after the pandemic.

Read more here.


CSA Exclusive: How businesses should reimagine their ops in response to COVID-19

Chain Store Age recently spoke with David Holme, founder and CEO of Exigent Group, about how retailers can adapt — online and in store — to the changes and challenges being wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Read more here.


Expert Opinion: Your lenders are watching you

Many borrowers already have drawn down much or all of their available credit line in order to have the liquidity to ride out the COVID19 pandemic. Other borrowers are contemplating doing the same.

It may be too late. Lenders have begun to restrict such borrowings.  Most loan documents have a provision that provides the lender with discretion over whether to fund a borrowing request. 

Read more here.


Big uptick in sales of electronics, cooking items, food, other essentials

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a major surge in online shopping — even by a group that has traditionally preferred stores.  

According to global data from data collection platform Luminati Networks, more customers than ever before are shopping online, including senior citizens, a group that traditionally preferred shopping in stores. Senior shoppers are now using e-commerce at a rate that is 15% higher than the same time last year.

Read more here.


Survey: Customers willing to allow more time for deliveries during COVID-19

Retailers have some leeway with delivery during the COVID-19 pandemic, but they need to maintain communication.

According to a survey of more than 1,000 consumers from delivery experience management software provider Convey Inc., nearly all (96%) respondents are willing to give retailers more time to deliver items. And 60% of respondents don’t expect retailers to have all of the items they want in stock during the coronavirus outbreak.  

Read more here.


Local Ace Hardware store offers virtual home help

An Ace Hardware independent retailer is providing project assistance via mobile app.

Cloverdale Ace Hardware, located in Winston-Salem, N.C., is partnering with North Carolina-based home repair technology startup Patch to offer virtual home maintenance assistance to customers. The beta launch of Patch, which was expedited to offer assistance during the COVID-19 pandemic, enables customers to share details about their project with an Ace associate at the Coverdale location or a remote home assistant. 

Read more here.


NRA releases guidance for restaurant reopenings

The National Restaurant Association released guidelines to be used in conjunction with the instructions that restaurant operators receive from authorities during their re-opening phase-in. 

The guidance is a basic summary of recommended practices that can be used to help mitigate exposure to the COVID-19 virus. It focuses on food safety, cleaning and sanitizing, employee health monitoring and personal hygiene, and social distancing. Each section includes a list of actionable items an operation should consider as it evaluates its safety procedures. 

Read more here.


Liquidation expert: COVID-19 will cause a huge rise in dispositions

It’s a well-known fact that per capita retail square footage in the United States is nearly twice the amount found in the United Kingdom or Japan. That’s a situation that’s likely to change following the coronavirus lockdown, said the leader of an asset liquidation company.

Read more here.


COVID-19 constraints limit Best Buy’s ESL plans

Best Buy is cutting back the scope of an electronic shelf label (ESL) rollout as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.

In December 2019 and February 2020, Best Buy placed orders with Sweden-based digital shelf edge solutions provider Pricer to equip nearly 680 stores in the U.S. with Pricer’s ESL system during 2020 at a total value of around $92.5 million. As a consequence of constraints to operate stores fully due to COVID-19, Best Buy and Pricer have come to an agreement to reduce the scope of the project by 150 stores and to delay the delivery of 40 stores into 2021. 

Read more here.


Expert Analysis: Disrupted Landscape — Grocery During COVID-19 & Beyond

With the rise of COVID-19, the grocery shopping experience was radically and abruptly disrupted. For many, online shopping suddenly became the desired method of buying groceries – and pickup and delivery slots are now increasingly hard to come by. Trips to the grocery store are prefaced by careful planning, and conducted as infrequently as possible. Safety is paramount, and customers will choose fulfillment methods and store experiences that ensure that safety.

Read more here.


Instacart to hire 250,000 new shoppers; adds new safety measures

Instacart is responding to a continuing demand surge with new hires and extra steps to increase the safety and income of its shoppers.

The on-demand delivery giant plans to bring on an additional 250,000 full-service shoppers over the next two months to meet continued consumer demand for grocery delivery and pickup in North America, with the intention to return to one-hour and same-day delivery. 

Read more here.


Gap stops paying rents; issues warning

Gap Inc. has suspended rent payments and said that, if unable to change lease terms, it could be deemed to be in default. 

The long-struggling retailer also warned that it will have to take further actions to add to its liquidity as it might not have enough cash flow to sufficiently fund operations as its stores remain closed amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Read more here.


COVID-19 constraints limit Best Buy’s ESL plans

Best Buy is cutting back the scope of an electronic shelf label (ESL) rollout as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.

In December 2019 and February 2020, Best Buy placed orders with Sweden-based digital shelf edge solutions provider Pricer to equip nearly 680 stores in the U.S. with Pricer’s ESL system during 2020 at a total value of around $92.5 million. As a consequence of constraints to operate stores fully due to COVID-19, Best Buy and Pricer have come to an agreement to reduce the scope of the project by 150 stores and to delay the delivery of 40 stores into 2021. 

Read more here.


Walmart to help neighbors shop for each other during pandemic

Walmart is teaming up with a neighborhood-based social networking service to make it easier for neighbors to buy goods for each other during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The retail giant and Nextdoor announced the launch of a program — “Neighbors Helping Neighbors” – designed to make it easier for customers to shop for their neighbors when making a trip to Walmart.

Read more here.


Florida landlord sues AMC Theaters for non-payment of rent

The show must not go on, but the rent checks must.

That’s the stern message sent to AMC Theaters by Palm Springs Miles shopping center, which has filed a $7.5 million dollar lawsuit against the cinema owner for nonpayment of $52,153 April rent. 

Read more here.


Walgreens takes its annual effort to end child poverty digital

Walgreens is observing Red Nose Day this year with a nod to social distancing.

For the sixth year, Walgreens is serving as the exclusive retailer of Red Nose Day, a fundraising campaign to end child poverty run by the non-profit organization Comic Relief U.S. Red Nose Day has raised $200 million since 2015.

Read more here.


Kroger releases ‘blueprint’ to help retailers, other businesses reopen safely

The Kroger Co. is taking the lead in offering guidance to retailers, restaurants, logistics and distribution centers and other industries to consider as they start to consider re-opening their facilities. 

With its stores open throughout the pandemic, the nation’s largest supermarket retailer drew on its own experiences to develop a guide, Sharing What We've Learned: A Blueprint for Businesses, that contains best practices, suggested protocols and creative assets, including social distancing signage, to help businesses begin to reopen safely “and in sync with their respective state plans.” 

Read more here.


Lamps Plus offers expert advice – at a distance

Lamps Plus is enabling customers to get expert advice on lighting without having to leave their homes or require a visit with social distancing. Customers can schedule an appointment and later receive a one-to-one custom expert lighting consultation through phone or text.

Read more here.


ICSC details event changes for 2020

International Council of Shopping Centers CEO Tom McGee has emailed association members and would-be exhibitors that the RECon show will not take place in 2020.

Read more here.


Nordstrom’s tailors get to work — making masks

Nordstrom Inc. is the largest employer of tailors in North America — and it’s putting them to good use as stores remain closed during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The department store retailer is leveraging the alterations teams in its stores to make 60,000 reusable face covers for all its employees working to fulfill online orders.

Read more here.


Four maintenance tips for dark stores— and why maintenance still matters

Curb appeal matters — even for stores that are temporarily shuttered amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Indeed, while dark stores don’t have the same foot traffic as open storefronts, regular preventative and reactive maintenance is still an important component of success.

Read more here.


Analysis: Younger consumers pamper themselves during pandemic

Shoppers 18-55 are shifting online purchases toward self-care and enjoyment as COVID-19-based social distancing continues.

According to analysis of transactions made through payments provider Klarna, younger consumers who use the Klarna app decreased their share of e-commerce spending on apparel, footwear and accessories and shifted some of that spending toward health and beauty and leisure and hobby items during the week ended April 4, 2020.

Read more here.


Survey: Overall teen spending plunges — except for food; fave online brand is…

The nation’s teens have cut back their spending amid the COVID-19 outbreak with one noticeable exception: food.

Food continues to be teens’ No. 1 overall spending category, at 25% of wallet share, which is up from 23% in fall 2019,  according to Piper Sandler Cos.’s 39th semi-annual “Taking Stock With Teens” survey, which polled some 5,200 teens nationwide between Feb. 17 and March 27. Food accounts for the largest share of males’ budgets, the survey found, and is a very close second for females, behind apparel. Chick-fil-A retained its top spot as teens’ favorite restaurant brand, followed by Starbucks. Other favorite brands: Chipotle, McDonald’s and Dunkin’ Donuts. 

Read more here.


As Coronavirus disrupts retail, AR shifts to necessity

Coronavirus is unsettling every aspect of our lives, including our retail experiences. 

As consumers have become more confined to their home, online shopping is now more important than ever and augmented reality (AR) technology has been thrust into the limelight to help online retailers deliver an efficient shopping experience.

Read more here.


Advance Auto Parts boosts benefits, expands delivery options, slashes cap spending

Advance Auto Parts Inc. is now offering customers curbside pickup and same-delivery. 

The delivery options were included in a business update from the auto parts/services retailer on the impact of COVID-19. Advance Auto is also providing emergency pay that includes additional paid sick time of 80 hours for full-time workers and 44 hours for part-time workers. Additionally, it’s offering employees a grant of up to $300 to help with basic living expenses during the pandemic, such as child-care costs.

Read more here.


Amazon starts developing COVID-19 test for employees

An e-tail giant is taking a hands-on approach to COVID-19 testing.

Amazon has begun building incremental testing capacity for COVID-19. A team of Amazon employees – including research scientists, program managers, procurement specialists and software engineers – have moved from their normal day jobs onto a dedicated team to work on this initiative.

Read more here.


How businesses can survive, thrive during COVID-19 with digital retail

Retailers attempting to weather the COVID-19 storm can utilize e-commerce, delivery and mobile technologies and strategies.

Chain Store Age recently hosted a webinar, “Don’t Go Home – Go Omnichannel – Digital Retail Strategies to Survive and Thrive During the COVID-19 Pandemic,” aimed at helping retailers meet the demands of customers who are dealing with social distancing, stay-at-home orders, and the need for quick access to key household and personal items.

Read more here.


Parent of Coach, Kate Spade to review store closings bi-weekly; gives China update

Tapestry will extend its store closures in North America and Europe by two weeks, through April 24, and will continue to pay employees through that time.

The luxury handbags and accessories retailer said it will continue to reassess store closure decisions on a bi-weekly basis.

Read more here.


Acosta: Majority of consumers have changed grocery shopping habits amid COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic is driving more consumers to something that had previously been slow to catch on: online grocery ordering.
 
A new report from consumer packaged goods sales and marketing agency Acosta found that 28% of online grocery shoppers made their first-ever online grocery order in March due to the virus. Also, many consumers who had previously ordered groceries online reported ordering more frequently: Of the 36% of shoppers who ordered groceries online for store pick-up, 33% reported making more orders in March. And of the 38% who ordered groceries online for home delivery, 37% reported making more orders in March.

Read more here.


Parent company of Coach using 3D printing capabilities to help healthcare workers

Tapestry is making additional investments in community support initiatives amid the ongoing COVID-19 health crisis.

The parent company of Coach and Kate Spade announced an employee-initiated volunteer program to repurpose Tapestry’s existing 3D printers to support healthcare professionals. The initiative includes the printing of disposable parts required for respirators and ventilators, test swabs, and face shields.

Read more here.


First Look: Jeff Bezos visits Amazon warehouse, Whole Foods Market store

Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos made a surprise visit to an Amazon fulfillment center and a Whole Foods Market amid ongoing efforts by the company to ensure its workers’ safety amid the COVID-19 crisis.

The online giant tweeted a video of Bezos putting on a face mask and getting his temperature checked as he enters the fulfillment center where he talks with workers.  He also is shown at a Whole Foods store where he thanked employees throughout the store. Amazon did not identify the locations of the fulfillment center or store.

Read more here.


How to reach consumers spending less during COVID-19 pandemic

Retailers seeking to grow their share of shrinking consumer spend should pay close attention to their stock levels.

According to a recent survey of more than 1,000 U.S. consumers from Blue Yonder (formerly JDA Software), consumers are spending less on retail, and in general. Almost half (49%) of respondents have spent less money in general since the COVID-19 pandemic began, with 22% of this group stating they’ve made a significant decrease in spending.

Read more here.


AAFES opens up mobile field exchange — in Manhattan

The Army & Air Force Exchange Service (Exchange) is following its motto and setting up operations where it is needed the most.

The Exchange has opened a mobile field exchange at the Army’s new field hospital at the Javits Center in New York City, to support service members and civilian medical personnel on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s the first time a mobile exchange has operated in New York since Superstorm Sandy in 2012.

Read more here.


Ulta Beauty, At Home in additional measures to reduce costs; CEOs forgo salaries

Ulta Beauty and At Home Group have joined the growing list of retailers who are taking additional measures to shore up their finances and reduce expenses as their stores remain closed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ulta Beauty said it will furlough many of its store and salon associates, starting April 19. All furloughed associates participating in company benefit plans will remain enrolled in their respective coverages.

Read more here.


Study: Majority of Americans think stores should reopen by end of May

A new survey has some hopeful findings for retailers with shuttered stores even as it shows an increased level of consumer concern about COVID-19.

Amid signals that coronavirus infections may be plateauing in hot spots like New York, a new study by digital product testing and decision-making platform. 

Read more here.


Expert Analysis: Steps to Take NOW for Addressing the COVID-19 Crisis

The unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic has thrust many retailers into unchartered territory. With the imposition of social distancing and stay at home orders, non-essential U.S. retailers have been forced to close thousands of stores across the country.  Many of these stores may not reopen until May, at the earliest. And when they do, the world may look very different from what it did just months before.

Read more here.


Staples remains open but refuses to pay April rent

Retail landlords nationwide are up in arms over Staples' refusal to pay rent in April, even though most of its stores remain open.

According to a report from Axios, several landlords complained that Sycamore Partners, the owner of the office products chain, was taking advantage of the pandemic situation despite the fact that the private equity took a $1 billion dividend from Staples last year.

Read more here.


Study: Grocery spending remains high, but purchases shift

The “extreme buying” peak of the COVID-19 pandemic has fallen, but the average household grocery spend remains at elevated levels.

That’s according to a report by NCSolutions, which found that the average household grocery spend remains 23% higher than pre-pandemic levels. This shift—coupled with a return to a grocery basket mix reminiscent of pre-COVID-19 shopping patterns—indicates consumers have entered a new purchasing stage, which NCS termed “home-confined buying.”

Read more here.


Walgreens expands consumer telehealth services for COVID-19

Walgreens is adding several new features to its Walgreens Find Care digital health offering.

Walgreens Find Care now includes a COVID-19 risk assessment, powered by Microsoft healthcare bot which runs on Microsoft Azure, to help users assess their risk of COVID-19 based on Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines. Additionally, customers can learn more about COVID-19 clinical trials by using the “Find My Clinical Trial” program.

Read more here.


Neighborhood Goods unveils free platform for local businesses

Neighborhood Goods is doing its part to help local businesses amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The retailer, designed as the modern evolution to — and evolution of — the department store, has launched a new online initiative, “The Commons by Neighborhood Goods,” that provides a free platform for brands, restaurateurs, musicians, and artists to engage with customers, reinvigorate businesses and bring people back to work. The Commons will be supported by an e-commerce component, and will be operational for the same amount of time that Neighborhood Goods stores are closed as a result of COVID-19. 

Read more here.


Google Cloud provides relief for surge in customer support demand

Google Cloud is streamlining setup of its artificial intelligence-based customer service platform.

Retailers running their enterprise on the Google Cloud web services platform can now more quickly get up and running with the Google Contact Center AI artificial intelligence solution. Google is rolling out the Rapid Response Virtual Agent program, designed to provide fast launch of a 24/7 virtual chat or voice customer service agent.

Read more here.


Estimated March imports hit five-year low; decline likely to continue

Estimates show that imports at major U.S. retail container ports dropped to their lowest level in five years in March, with imports are projected to remain significantly below normal levels through early summer as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.

Read more here.


McDonald’s Australia, Subway join fast-casual grocery trend

Two more fast-casual chains are entering the grocery arena in response to COVID-19-fueled demand.

Panera is not the only fast-casual restaurant retailer using its existing ingredient supply chain to offer pick-up and delivery of grocery staples.

Read more here.


Nordstrom: Financial situation could become ‘distressed’ if stores remain dark

Nordstrom Inc. gave an update on the impact of COVID-19 in a securities filing on Wednesday.

The department store retailer said the global crisis resulting from the spread of the virus has had a “substantial” impact on its business, and that it expect results for its quarter ending May 2, 2020 and beyond to be adversely impacted in a “significant” manner. 

Read more here.


McDonald’s cutting about $1 billion in spending

McDonald’s is slashing spending and has withdrawn its 2020 outlook and long-term forecast amid the uncertainty due to the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on the economy.

In a business update, the company said it expects to reduce capital expenditures by approximately $1 billion for 2020 as a result of fewer new restaurant openings and renovations around the world. McDonald’s CEO Chris Kempczinski will cut his salary in half, until at least Sept. 30, and four of McDonald’s top executives have volunteered to reduce their salaries by 25% through the same time period. 

Read more here.


Instacart ramps up delivery speed and convenience as demand surges

An online grocery delivery giant is increasing delivery availability and reducing wait times as demand surges during the COVID-19 crisis.

Instacart is launching two new consumer-facing features in response to heightened order volumes as customers shop online more due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The new features - "Fast & Flexible" and "Order Ahead" - which the company has been testing over the last few weeks, are designed to increase delivery availability for customers across North America and provide more product selection and convenience.

Read more here.


Report: Amazon to pause third-party shipping during COVID-19 surge

According to the Wall Street Journal, Amazon will temporarily cease operations of its Amazon Shipping service in June. Launched in April 2019, Amazon Shipping bypasses Amazon fulfillment centers entirely. Select Amazon sellers with warehouses in the Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York/New Jersey metro areas can directly print Amazon shipping labels from their dashboards. Amazon then picks up packages every weekday and delivers them to domestic consumers seven days a week.

Read more here.


Fitch Ratings: The retailers most vulnerable to current spending downtown include…

The COVID-19 pandemic is upending U.S. retail discretionary spending, which is projected to decline by 40% to 50% in the first half of 2020.

That’s according to a post from Fitch Ratings, which expects a slow rate of improvement through the summer from a current 80% to 90% decline in sales — if stores start to open mid-May or early June. The downturn is expected to extend into 2021, with sales forecast to fall 8% to 10% from 2019 levels, Fitch stated. 

Read more here.


Panera Bread is now selling groceries

The fast-casual chain has grocery “staples” to its list of menu items available for pick-up or delivery as the COVID-19 outbreak continues. The featured products include produce, with tomatoes, avocado and blueberries among the offerings, along with dairy items such as milk, yogurt and cream cheese spreads. Breads and bagels are also in the mix.

Read more here.


PREIT furloughs 37% of its workforce

Large mall owner PREIT girded itself further against the coronavirus shutdown by furloughing 62 employees at its properties and 41 corporate office employees.

Last week, PREIT added $300 million in liquidity to its operations with a 90% cut in its quarterly dividend and an 11% reduction in capital spending.

Read more here.


H-E-B pilots on-demand restaurant delivery

A Texas-based regional grocery giant is opening its customer base to local food service retailers.

H-E-B has launched a pilot program to help area restaurants during the coronavirus crisis. Select H-E-B stores will sell ready-made meals from restaurant partners. All proceeds from the sales of these chef-prepared meals will go directly to the restaurants.

Read more here.


Starbucks makes $10 million commitment to new employee relief initiative

Starbucks Corp. is expanding its efforts to help its employees around the world affected by the COVID-19 crisis. 

The coffee giant has committed $10 million to establish the Starbucks Global Partner Emergency Relief Program, which will offer one-time direct grants to employees facing “extreme hardship” resulting from the pandemic. Eligible categories for the grants include, but are not limited to, housing and utilities, sudden loss of home, death of a family member or partner and related funeral expenses.  

Read more here.


ACI Worldwide: Online sales and fraud rising; maintaining security during crisis

The COVID-19 crisis is driving the global growth of e-commerce sales — and of online fraud.

Transaction volumes in most retail sectors experienced a 74% rise in March compared to the year-ago period, while online gaming has seen a staggering increase of 97%, according to an analysis by ACI Worldwide of hundreds of millions of transactions from global online retailers.

Read more here.


Gartner: Three steps to mitigate supply chain disruption from COVID-19

Retail chief supply chain officers (CSCOs) should combine an effective near-term response to the impact of COVID-19 with a plan for longer-term recovery.

Gartner has identified three actions retail CSCOs can undertake to mitigate initial disruption and set up their business for future success. 

Read more here.


Expert Insight: COVID-19 is Blunt Reminder to Address Supply Chain Challenges

While people’s health is the number one concern during the COVID-19 pandemic, supply chain disruptions are near the top of the list of business risks. As governments and organizations step up containment and mitigation measures, the knock-on effects on businesses will increase.

Read more here.


Dunkin’ delivers during pandemic - from more locations

A leading coffee retailer is adding stores to its on-demand delivery program and temporarily making some deliveries free. 

Dunkin’ is expanding an existing partnership with on-demand delivery platform Grubhub with more than 1,300 stores across the country. This will make Grubhub delivery available at more than 4,000 Dunkin’ stores nationwide by Thursday, April 16.

Read more here


Walmart’s annual shareholder meeting going virtual — but without the party

The huge, celebrity-studded celebration for Walmart employees that precedes its annual shareholder meeting has been canceled. 

Walmart Inc. canceled the event, which was scheduled for Friday, June 5, and has been held at the Bud Walton Arena in Fayetteville, Ark., since 1994, citing the COVID-19 outbreak. The company will hold its formal shareholders meeting online, on June 3.

Read more here.


Survey: COVID-19 concerns grow among consumers

Shopping habits are changing as a result of the continuing COVID-19 outbreak, not necessarily to retailers’ benefit.

According to a new survey of U.S. adult consumers with Internet access from Coresight Research conducted the week of April 1, half of respondents are cutting back purchases in some areas. The clothing and footwear category is seeing the greatest number of respondents curbing spending. 

Read more here.


Lowe’s stores to close for Easter; new ad spot thanks front line responders

Lowe's Cos. is giving its employees time to “recharge” this Sunday.

The home improvement retailer said that all its stores and distribution centers in the U.S. and Canada will close this coming Easter Sunday. No hourly associate will lose scheduled hours or have a reduction in pay as a result of the closing, Lowe’s added. 

Read more here.


Amazon assists continuous learning in wake of COVID-19

Amazon is donating laptop computers to the Seattle public schools.

The e-tail giant will supply 8,200 laptops to students to help close the gap in Seattle Public Schools’ continuous learning plan during the COVID-19 pandemic. Amazon’s permanent, direct-to-student donation, valued over $2 million, is designed to meet the estimated need for elementary students and will help toward the goal of providing all public school students in Seattle with access to a device while at home. 

Read more here.


Walgreens to open 15 drive-thru COVID-19 testing sites in ‘hot spot’ markets

 

Walgreens is moving to expand the availability of rapid COVID-19 testing.

The drug store company plans to open 15 drive-thru testing sites for the virus across Arizona, Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Tennessee, and Texas, starting later this week. The sites will utilize Abbott’s new ID NOW COVID-19 test, which delivers positive results in as little as five minutes and negative results within 13 minutes.

Read more here.


NPD: Retail ‘bright’ spots during COVID-19

Dollar sales declined 16% in the third week of March as hoarding slowed, but growth in a number of key industries helped stave off an even greater decline.

That’s according to The NPD Group’s weekly read on U.S. consumption trends, which revealed the bright spots that emerge amid the challenges retail is facing during the COVID-19 crisis. Despite steeper declines in overall general merchandise sales as the weeks progress, several categories within toys, consumer technology, small appliances, and office/janitorial supplies have found significant growth.

Read more here.


Food giant installs walk-through temperature scanners

Tyson Foods is using new technology to check employees’ temperature as they walk into the building.

Read more here.


Kroger limits in-store traffic with in-house technology; pilots one-way aisles

The Kroger Cos. is taking additional measures to encourage physical distancing and flatten the curve of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Beginning April 7, the nation’s largest supermarket retailer will begin to limit the number of customers to 50% of the International Building Code’s calculated capacity to allow for proper physical distancing in every store.

Read more here.


Walgreens, Rite Aid enhance store safety measures

The nation’s two largest drug store chains have implemented additional preventive measures to protect employees and customers amid the COVID-19 pandemic, including installing plexiglass shields at counters and equipping employees with protective gear. 

Walgreens said it will be providing face covers to pharmacy staff and other store associates, as well as employees at distribution centers to help minimize the spread of COVID-19. Also, protective plexiglass shields are currently being installed in Walgreens stores in select markets, and will be installed “as quickly as possible” in all stores chain-wide, the company said. The shields are located at point-of-sale at the pharmacy and front of store.

Read more here.


CVS gives on-the-spot results at new COVID-19 test sites; opens ‘pop-up’ pharmacy

CVS Health, in conjunction with federal and state officials, has opened two rapid COVID-19 drive-thru testing sites.

The pharmacy giant said it hopes to perform up to 1,000 tests a day. The sites, in the parking lots at Georgia Tech in Atlanta and at Twin River Casino in Lincoln, Rhode Island, will be conducted using the new Abbott ID NOW COVID-19 test. Positive results can be delivered in as little as five minutes and negative results in as little as 13 minutes. Licensed health care providers from MinuteClinic, CVS’ retail medical clinic, will oversee the testing, which is available at no cost to patients.

Read more here.


Lamps Plus goes digital-only as consumers focus on comfort

A specialty lighting retailer is temporarily shuttering stores as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.

California-based Lamps Plus has closed all 36 of its brick-and-mortar stores in seven western states to prevent possible transmission of the COVID-19 virus among customers and associates. The stores will reopen when advised. However, Lamps Plus says most of its business has transitioned online as orders continue to ship from the warehouse.

Read more here.


The Great American Takeout offers third course

A coalition of quick-service and fast-casual food chains is once again asking consumers to order meals – with an incentive.

For the third straight Tuesday, The Great American Takeout, a coalition of more than 400 restaurants and CPG partners nationwide, is requesting that consumers order at least one takeout or delivery meal from a restaurant on Tuesday, April 7. Payment processing technology provider Shift4Payments will provide $5,000 to be used at restaurants to one consumer who shares a photo of their takeout meal ordered April 7 on social media.

Read more here.


Customer Growth Partners analyzes impact of COVID-19 on retail sectors

Since March 1, the entire retail sector has undergone a huge sea change, with several major sectors seeing severe declines in business, even before virtually all specialty apparel and department stores closed the week of March 15, along with many other specialty stores. The apparel & accessories and department stores have been most challenged, across almost all formats and all price-points.

Meanwhile, a few sectors actually enjoyed a modest increase in trade over the year-earlier period (March 1-31)—notably the big-box discounters, smaller discounters and essential hardlines retailers that have not closed, as well as food and drug stores.  

Read more here.


Analysis: Younger shoppers shift e-commerce spend during COVID-19 pandemic

According to analysis of transactions made through payments provider Klarna, younger shoppers are focusing on what they will wear and their home environment as most Americans are now under some type of “stay-at-home” order. Klarna analyzed purchases by shoppers in the Gen Z (ages 18–23), millennial (ages 24–39) and Gen X (ages 40–55) demographics over the weeks of March 22–28 and March 15–21, as well as a base period of Feb. 1–March 7, 2020.

Read more here.


Walmart limits number of shoppers in stores; instituting one-way aisles

Walmart has taken additional steps to ensure the health and safety of its employees and customers during the COVID-19 crisis.

The retailer is limiting the number of customers who can be in a store at any one time. No more than five customers for each 1,000 sq. ft. can be in a store at a given time, which is roughly 20% of a store’s capacity. The new policy went into effect Saturday, April 4. 

Read more here.


The Container Store moves stores to omnichannel model

The Container Store (TCS) is minimizing brick-and-mortar shopping during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In an effort to prevent spread of COVID-19, TCS is closing all remaining stores that were not already closed in accordance with state and local orders. The company is shifting to click-and-pick-up/contactless curbside delivery and scheduled in-store appointments (only allowing one customer in the store at a time) in select locations, only where it is legally permitted and store employees wish to work. 

Read more here.


RH permanently cuts 440 employees, furloughs 2,300; cutting cap expenditures

The company formerly known as Restoration Hardware is tightening its belt.

Citing “the lack of clarity regarding when it will be safe to reopen,” RH said it has temporarily furloughed approximately 2,300 employees and is permanently reducing its workforce by 440 associates. The company is also implementing temporary tiered salary reductions across the company ranging from 10% for leaders and salaried associates, 20% for directors, 30% for VPs to 40% for senior VPs and chief titles. The executive leadership team will forgo 100% of its salaries until business stabilizes.

Read more here.


BJ’s limits in-store traffic to 20% of store’s total capacity

BJ’s Wholesale Club has joined other big-box retailers in limiting in-store traffic and implementing additional measures to support the health and safety of customers and employees during the current pandemic.

Starting April 4, the retailer will limit the number of members allowed inside its clubs at any one based on the square footage of each club. No more than 20% of a store’s total capacity will be allowed in the building at any given time. Also, when possible, all members are encouraged to send only one person per household to shop. 

Read more here.


Amazon’s Bezos makes multi-million gift to food organization

Amazon gave an update on its latest efforts to support its hometown community and the world at large during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos has made a $100 million gift to Feeding America, which is the largest U.S. nonprofit focused on food security. Feeding America will distribute the funds to its national network of food banks and food pantries.

Read more here.


CSA Exclusive: Four predictions for post-pandemic retail success

The harsh lessons learned during the coronavirus (COVID-19) may be exactly what will help retailers to survive — and thrive — post-pandemic.

Currently, retail chains industry-wide continue to shore up capital by reducing operating hours, temporarily closing stores, and furloughing employees, among other measures. In fact, there were almost 62,000 temporary store closures by major retailers in the United States as of March 27, according to Coresight Research. 

Read more here.


Commentary: Retailers must make websites fully accessible — or face ADA lawsuits

As the coronavirus pandemic sweeps America and shelter-in-place orders drag on, online shopping, once a convenience, is now a necessity. 

But for many of our parents and grandparents, the web is full of stumbling blocks. The vast majority of websites do not meet even the most basic accessibility standards laid out by the World Wide Web Consortium’s Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), which has become the de facto standard businesses must adhere to in order to fulfill their obligations under the Americans With Disabilities Act, the landmark 1990 ruling which guarantees that all businesses provide “full and equal enjoyment of the goods and services” they offer to all Americans, including those with visual, auditory and other impairments.

Read more here.


Digital commerce companies offer local relief from COVID-19

There are some inspiring examples of how localized digital commerce can help retailers reach consumers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

I have been heartened to see how many e-commerce retailers and technology providers are working to combat COVID-19 on a national basis. However, there are also a lot of local efforts that attract less attention, but are no less valuable or praiseworthy. Here are three examples.

Read more here.


Benjamin Moore partners to help small businesses, painting contractors

Benjamin Moore has teamed up with the Painting Contractors Association to underwrite participation costs for the association’s online “Operation COVID-19 Response” educational event.

As the founding sponsor of this initiative, Benjamin Moore is committed to assisting painting contractors and small businesses navigate through the changes in industry brought on by COVID-19.

Read more here.


Expert Insight: Retailers should plan for the new normal now

The last few weeks have created an unprecedented situation and rapid changes for all of us, perhaps, none more so than chain retailers. While some businesses—like pharmacies and supermarkets—have been thrust into the eye of the storm struggling to keep up with new demands, others have simply had to shutter their stores and wonder when they will see a customer again. 

While it may seem counterintuitive to focus on anything but execution, I believe now is exactly the time for leaders in both of these categories to re-examine and refresh their overall strategy by keeping a sharp eye on how customer behavior and sentiment is evolving, and planning for the new normal BEFORE it arrives.  

Read more here.


Survey: Amazon frustrateRead more here.s many shoppers during COVID-19 pandemic

Online competitors of Amazon may have an opportunity in the COVID-19 crisis.

According to the Consumers & Commerce 2020 Coronavirus Trends Report from e-commerce platform Yotpo, 65% of respondents using Amazon said they couldn't get everything (33%) or anything (32%) they really needed from the retailer. And if an item is out of stock, 41% of respondents will turn to a less familiar brand to help meet their need.

Read more here.


Instacart to distribute health kits to shoppers

An on-demand grocery delivery giant is adding to its efforts to promote shopper well-being.

Instacart will provide free health and safety kits to full-service shoppers that include face masks, hand sanitizer, and thermometers. The company worked over the last several weeks with several third-party manufacturers, in consultation with medical and infectious disease experts, to source and develop the kits.

Read more here.


10,000 tune into Marcus & Millichap coronavirus webcast

Here’s how the coronavirus-caused economic plunge is different from 2008.

The Great Recession hit during a time of economic instability with massive market speculation, falling home prices, and no Fed playbook for recovery. The current crisis befell us during a boom economy. Its duration depends not so much upon declining numbers in the Standard & Poors Index as on increasing numbers of COVID-19 cases and deaths. 

Read more here.


Lululemon keeps workers on payroll

Lululemon athletica inc. is paying its employees even as its stores remain shuttered amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The athletic apparel retailer said it will continue to pay its employees through June 1, whether stores reopen or remain closed. The move comes as many department store and specialty retailers, from Macy’s to Gap to Bed Bath & Beyond, have furloughed store employees. (Lululemon also has paid all its April rent to landlords, reported CNBC.)

Read more here.


Under Armour details big restructuring charges; to furlough employees

Citing the “acute shock” to its business resulting from COVID-19, Under Armour outlined a series of cost-cutting measures as the financial toll of the pandemic rises.

In separate news, the athletic apparel brand detailed a previously (pre-pandemic) planned restructuring initiative that is designed to reduce costs and improve future profitability and cash flow generation. It includes one-time charges of between $475 million to $525 million this year.

Read more here.


Zappos will help customers – with anything

An online footwear, apparel and accessories retailer will answer literally any question a consumer may have.

Zappos has launched a Customer Service Anything Hotline. The 24/7 phone service allows consumers who call the retailer’s customer service center to select a “help with anything” option. With no purchase required, consumers can discuss topics such as the weather, streaming video selections, or even dream vacation plans with a live customer agent.

Read more here.


Chico's takes a ‘poison pill’ amid COVID-19 outbreak

Chicos’s FAS Inc. is the second retailer in recent days to adopt a limited duration shareholders rights plan after disruptions due to COVID-19 pandemic.

The women’s apparel retailer adopted the plan, the so-called "poison pill,” saying it was in the best interest of all its shareholders. The plan aims to guard against any individual or group gaining control of the company in the open market without paying a premium. (Tailored Brands, parent company of Men's Wearhouse and Jos. A. Bank, adopted a shareholders rights plan on March 31.)

Read more here.


Target to limit store traffic

Target Corp. is rolling out additional social distancing and safety measures in its stores.

Beginning April 4, the discounter said it will actively monitor and, when needed, limit the total number of people inside a store based on the location’s specific square footage. If metering is needed, an employee will help shoppers into a designated waiting area outside with social distancing markers. Other employees will guide shoppers inside the store and keep things moving quickly and conveniently, Target said.

Read more here.


Amazon doing temperature checks, providing face masks; up to 80,000-plus new hires

Amazon outlined additional steps to protect its fulfillment center and delivery employees during the COVID-19 outbreak after coming under some criticism that it was not doing enough.

In a blog post, Dave Clark, senior VP of worldwide operations at Amazon, said the company will start taking employees’ temperatures when they report to work and also supply them with face masks. The temperature checks started Sunday, March 29, at select U.S. sites and have since been rolled out to more than 100,00 employees per day. 

Read more here.


Publix implements plexiglass shields, other methods for store safety

A regional grocery giant is altering store design and operations in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Publix has started installing plexiglass shields at all cash registers, pharmacies and customer service counters, as well as suspended in-store product and recipe sampling and classes. The retailer has also increased sanitization through frequent and regular cleaning of high-touch surfaces like carts, door handles, PIN pads, ATMs and vending machines. To allow extra time for store cleaning and preventive sanitation, Publix has reduced store hours.

Read more here.


Lowe’s new safety measures include employee app to monitor foot traffic

Lowe’s Companies is doubling down on its in-store social distancing measures during the COVID-19 crisis. It’s also raising the pay of hourly workers and giving them access to gloves and masks.

The home improvement giant said it has developed an app, available on employees’ handheld devices, to implement a new customer limit protocol. Each store manager can now monitor foot traffic and limit entrance based on CDC and local guidelines, Lowe’s said.

Read more here.


Shopify helps retailers socially distance

A leading digital commerce platform is running several initiatives aimed at helping retailers adapt to new shopping protocols in the wake of COVID-19.

Shopify is making local in-store /curbside pickup and delivery available for all retailers using its POS platform. In addition, the company is making gift cards available on all plans and for all retailers. 

Read more here.


Kimco puts $800 million cash on its balance sheet to ride out the pandemic

One of North America’s largest publicly traded owners and operators of grocery-anchored centers and mixed-use assets has girded itself against coronavirus by obtaining a $375 million unsecured term loan.

Kimco Realty now claims approximately $800 million of cash on its balance sheet. The Jericho, N.Y., based company stated that this strong cash position, together with a $1.3 billion revolving credit facility and more than 300 unencumbered properties provides it with the capacity to meet its debt obligations through the end of 2020.  

Read more here.


Newegg maintains continuity during COVID-19 pandemic

Newegg says it is making extra effort to help ensure the health and safety of warehouse employees who remain onsite to process, pick, pack and ship customer orders. This includes providing additional janitorial service, educating about the importance of good workplace hygiene, and supplying masks and other protective gear.

Read more here.


Ross Stores furloughs most of store, DC employees; CEO, chairman defer salaries

Ross Stores is taking additional steps to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic.

The off-pricer extended its store closings and, to further enhance liquidity, will temporarily furlough the majority of its store and distribution center employees, as well as some other associates across the business, starting on Sunday, April 5.

Read more here.


NYC leasing agent: 40% of shutdown businesses won’t re-open

One retail leasing agent in New York foresees bleak consequences in the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic, with retail vacancy rates hitting 50%.

“Prior to this situation, we were working on around 32 deals, and 30 of them were about to go to lease. In response to the pandemic, those 30 deals pulled the brakes and are now completely halted,” said James Famularo, president of Meridian Retail Leasing. 

Read more here.


Hy-Vee reserves time online for vulnerable shoppers

A regional Midwestern grocer has expanded its reserved shopping times from its physical stores to its online delivery service.

Hy-Vee Inc. is reserving one hour of its Hy-Vee “aisles online” shopping time slots each day for customers who are considered “high-risk.” The online time slots will be reserved from 7 to 8 a.m., seven days a week, for customers age 60 and older, expectant mothers, and anyone with an underlying health condition(s) that makes them more susceptible to serious illness. 

Read more here.


Walmart reportedly puts efforts to sell Asda on hold

Walmart’s ongoing efforts to sell a majority stake in its U.K. supermarket chain ASDA may have been put on the back burner for the time being. 

The retail giant hit the pause button in order  to free up its leadership team  to focus their full attention on  managing the business amid big spikes in demand for groceries and other essential items caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, reported CNBC.

Read more here.


Sephora keeping majority of U.S. store employees on payroll through late May

Sephora has joined other major retailers in extending its store closures, but it is not following suit in another way.

Instead of furloughing the majority of its workforce, the beauty giant, which is owned by Paris-based luxury goods conglomerate LVMH, decided to let go of a portion of its part-time and seasonal store employee base, specifically those who have worked for the company for a short tenure and have limited hours. The employees have all been offered severance and provided with resources to support their transition, the company said.

Read more here.


Survey: 85% of Americans to alter buying habits because of COVID-19

The coronavirus have significant short- and long-term effects on brand affinity and consumer purchases in the U.S.

That’s according to a survey conducted during the last two days by research from GfK, which revealed that 67% of Americans are concerned about their ability to make ends meet during the crisis, and that 85%  expect to change their purchase behavior because of the virus.

Read more here.


Furniture retailer Article modifies delivery for COVID-19

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, a specialty furniture retailer is instituting contactless delivery protocols.

Article is now offering fully operational delivery across the U.S. and Canada, with most of its product in stock and available for shipment from local warehouses. The retailer is introducing contactless delivery as its default shipping option. Stores remain closed until further notice.

Read more here.


Study: Online channel likely to benefit long-term from COVID-19

It has only been a few weeks, but the COVID-19 pandemic is already making many consumers more likely to shop online.

According to “The Early Effects of COVID-19 On Online Shopping,” a new study of nearly 1,200 U.S. consumers from RSR Research and Yottaa, 90% of respondents are hesitant to shop in-store due to coronavirus (COVID-19). A majority of respondents will either not shop in-store at all or will only do so if “absolutely necessary.”

Read more here.


Adobe: E-commerce is changing, not just because of COVID-19

Digital shopping and purchasing power were on the rise even before the COVID-19 pandemic began.

According to the Adobe Digital Economy Index, the digital purchasing power of consumers is up 3% year-over-year and has increased 20% since 2014, with $1 buying online today what it would have taken $1.20 to buy in 2014. Over that same time, $1 spent buying a similar set of goods offline lost value, with $1 in 2020 buying what would have only cost 88 cents in 2014. 

Read more here.


Tailored Brands resumes online fulfillment, will manufacture masks

The parent company of Men’s Wearhouse and Jos. A. Banks has reopened its e-commerce fulfillment centers and begun shipping online orders.

Tailored Brands will keep its retail stores temporarily closed until at least May 4, 2020. However, Men’s Wearhouse and Jos. A. Bank can now ship directly to customers who place retail orders on the brands’ respective websites, as well as rental orders previously placed in-store, and new rental reservations made online.

Read more here.


Kroger giving another bonus to ‘hero’ employees

he Kroger Company is increasing its efforts to reward employees working on the frontlines during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The nation’s largest supermarket retailer also announced that all hourly frontline grocery, supply chain, manufacturing, pharmacy and call center associates will see their standard base rate of pay raised $2. 

Read more here.


No rent break from Taubman for retailers

Taubman Centers, one of the largest owners of malls in the United States, is demanding rent from tenants even though their properties are shuttered during the coronavirus pandemic.

USA Today obtained a letter Taubman sent to tenants that said “All tenants will be expected to meet their Lease obligations. It further explained that the "landlord's obligation to pay its lenders, utility companies, insurance companies and the like, to ensure the safety and security of the building and maintain the appropriate level of operations, remains."

Read more here.


Register Now: CSA webinar on how to maximize online sales during COVID-19

An upcoming webinar hosted by Chain Store Age will provide practical and actionable insights on how retailers can meet e-commerce, delivery and mobile challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The webinar, “Don’t Go Home – Go Omnichannel – Digital Retail Strategies to Survive and Thrive During the COVID-19 Pandemic,” will be presented on Tuesday, April 7, 2 p.m. - 2:30 p.m. EST. It will put a spotlight on — and address how retailers can overcome —three critical topics facing retailers as they deal with the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak:

Read more here.


Home Depot limits in-store customers; halts sales of N95 masks

The Home Depot announced temporary changes to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 along with an update on how it is contributing to front line medical professionals. 

The home improvement giant is limiting the number of customers allowed into its stores at any one time and marking floors and installing signage to help customers and employees maintain safe distances. The retailer is also giving thermometers to store and distribution center employees to perform health checks before reporting to work.

Read more here.


David’s Bridal, Guess?, Christopher & Banks furloughing employees, cutting expenses

More retailers are furloughing employees and taking other measures to shore up liquidity as they extend store closings amid the COVID-19 crisis. 

Below are business updates from David's Bridal, Guess? and Christopher & Banks. 

Read more here.


Urban Outfitters temporarily halts rent payments

In announcing its decision to suspend payments, Urban Outfitters joins The Cheesecake Factory, the only other national chain that has gone public with plans to do so. In addition, Urban Outfitters detailed a list of other measures is it taking to protect its financial position and increase financial flexibility during the COVID-19 crisis, including adjusting inventory levels by canceling or delaying many orders and asking for price concessions on those remaining.

Read more here.


Device uses real-time audio cues to promote in-store social distancing

A device that resembles a dome security camera is designed to heighten real-time awareness of social distancing in retail stores – especially in busy areas frequented by multiple shoppers.

SmartDome, from shopper engagement and loss prevention technologies provider Indyme, looks like the dome security cameras that are installed on the ceilings of many stores nationwide. But it operates much differently: Upon detecting people in the monitored area, it announces a message such as "For your safety, please maintain at least six feet of social distance."

Read more here.


PREIT takes actions to improve liquidity by $300 million during Coronavirus pandemic

Pennsylvania’s largest owner of enclosed malls has taken actions to strengthen its balance sheet and create $300 million in incremental liquidity.

PREIT decreased the size of its quarterly dividend by 90% to two cents per common share to make up $60 million in liquidity for the year. It has increased its borrowing capacity by more than $83 million by executing amendments to its credit facilities. It also plans to reduce its capital spending projections by 11% to save $11 million.

Read more here.


Restaurants ask consumers to take it to go – again

A coalition of quick-service and fast-casual food chains are offering a sequel to “The Great American Takeout.”

For the second Tuesday in a row, a coalition of restaurants is asking Americans to support the struggling restaurant community by ordering at least one delivery or pick-up meal from any restaurant during The Great American Takeout on Tuesday, March 31.

Read more here.


Simon furloughs 30% of its workforce

The nation’s biggest, which had temporarily closed all of its properties, is now shedding nearly a third of its workforce.

Read more here.


J.C. Penney furloughs most of its workforce; to cover 100% of their health premiums

J.C. Penney joined the growing list of major retail chains that are furloughing employees as stores remain closed amid the COVID-10 crisis.

The department store giant said it is extending the temporary closure of its stores and business offices due to the pandemic and, as a result, will temporarily furlough the majority of store hourly associates, beginning April 2.

Read more here.


Exclusive: Cannabis chain meets challenges of COVID-19

Starbuds is leveraging omnichannel technology and social distancing to ensure customer and employee safety during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The Colorado-based operator of recreational and medicinal cannabis dispensaries operates 20 locations in Colorado, Oklahoma, and Maryland. Chain Store Age recently spoke with Brian Ruden, CEO and co-founder of Starbuds, about how the company is specifically dealing with COVID-19 issues in Colorado, where it operates 13 dispensaries.

Read more here.


Nielsen: Sales are skyrocketing in these categories due to COVID-19

Consumer demand for key products is rising well into three-digit growth rates compared to 2019.

According to Nielsen total U.S. dollar sales data, sales of some items in the health/safety/cleaning, food, beverages, pet, and beauty products categories for the one- and four-week periods ending Saturday, March 21, 2020, are up dramatically year-over-year. 

Read more here.


Walmart to take employees’ temperatures as part of stepped up safety measures

Walmart Inc. is taking additional steps to ensure the safety of its workers and customers during the COVID-19 pandemic, from taking the temperature of workers to one-way store aisles.

The retail giant will start taking the temperatures of its employees as they report to work in stores, warehouse clubs, distribution centers and other facilities, as well as asking them some basic health screening questions.  Infrared thermometers are being sent to all locations, a process that could take up to three weeks.

Read more here.


Hibbett Sports names CFO

Hibbett Sports has found a permanent finance head.

The athletic specialty retailer named Robert J. Volke as its new CFO. Volke’s employment will begin April 13, 2020, in the position of senior VP of accounting and finance. Immediately following the filing of the company’s annual report on Form 10-K for the fiscal year ended February 1, 2020, he will become the CFO.

Read more here.


Gap Inc. furloughs store employees; exec team takes pay cut

Gap Inc. is extending its store closures past the previously announced April 1 date to help slow the spread of COVID-19.

As part of its decision, the company will furlough the majority of its store teams in the United States and Canada. It also is reducing headcount across its corporate functions around the world. Gap is temporarily halting pay, but will continue to offer applicable benefits until stores are able to reopen. 

Read more here.


Brooks Brothers, Under Armour using factories to make medical supplies

Brooks Brothers and Under Armour joined the growing list of retailers who are using their facilities to make badly-needed medical supplies for frontline healthcare workers in the wake of the novel coronavirus.

Brooks Brothers is converting its New York, North Carolina and Massachusetts factories from manufacturing ties, shirts and suits to now making masks and gowns. The apparel company plans to use the facilities to produce up to 150,000 masks per day on an ongoing basis. It will also be producing protective gowns.

Read more here.


Kohl’s furloughs store employees; CEO forgoing salary; cuts cap expenditures

Kohl’s is furloughing a good deal of its workforce and cutting capital expenditures as it extends store closings in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak.

The retailer said it will temporarily furlough store and store distribution center associates, as well as some corporate office associates whose work has been significantly reduced by the store closures.  

Read more here.


Spencer’s furloughs all store employees

The party is temporarily on hold at Spencer’s.

The specialty retailer announced that its stores will remain closed for the foreseeable future to maintain the safety of customers and employees from the continued spread of COVID-19. In line with the extended closing, Spencer’s is furloughing all store employees across its 680 stores nationwide.  

Read more here.


Macy’s to furlough most of workforce amid significant sales losses

With no clear timeline for when stores will reopen, Macy’s Inc. is furloughing most of its employees as the COVID-19 outbreak continues to take a heavy toll on its business.

The department store giant, which has about 130,000 employees, said that, starting this week, it will be moving to the “absolute minimum workforce” needed to maintain basic operations across its brands. With its online operations still open for business, there will be fewer furloughs in the retailer’s digital business, supporting distribution centers and call centers as it continues to serve customers online. 

Read more here.


Stage Stores furloughs all but 80 employees; reduces exec pay

With all its stores temporarily closed, Stage Stores has furloughed virtually its entire workforce in response to the COVID-19 crisis.

The company, whose transformation into an off-price retailer under the Gordmans banner had hit some snags https://chainstoreage.com/stage-stores-reportedly-eyeing-bankruptcybefore the virus outbreak, has furloughed virtually all employees in its stores, field support roles and distribution centers. Also, 87% of the workforce at its Houston support center have been put on furlough. 

Read more here.


Exclusive Q&A: Navigating COVID-19 distribution issues

Retailers experiencing product shortages in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic need to use patience and strategy.

Chain Store Age recently spoke with Bobby Napiltonia, chief revenue officer of on-demand freight management platform NEXT Trucking, about how retailers can deal with challenges in transportation and distribution due to demand surges caused by COVID-19.

Read more here.


Lamy Group: Rents coming due pose critical test for landlords and tenants

With most stores closed throughout much of the United States to help stem the spread of COVID-19, retail landlords are being inundated with requests for rent relief.

That’s according to The Lamy Group, which noted that, as the first week of April approaches, rents are due for the first time during the crisis, which will mark the start of a critical test for landlords and retail tenants alike. 

Read more here.


Dollar General gives discount to first responders; employee bonuses

Dollar General Corp. is giving a discount to the folks on the frontlines of fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.

The discounter will provide all medical personnel, first responders and activated National Guardsmen with a 10% discount on qualifying purchases. The offer is good through April 30, with an extension to be evaluated in the coming weeks based on the status of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Read more here.


Publix offering free rent to tenants in its company-owned centers

The dominant grocer in Florida (who is also a major property owner in the state) is offering assistance to some of its neighboring businesses as the COVID-19 pandemic forces them to temporarily close their doors. 

Publix is offering rent relief to businesses operating in company-owned shopping centers that have closed due to the coronavirus pandemic. The relief package includes waiving rent for two months, along with waiving payments for common area maintenance fees and taxes. The offer is good regardless of the tenant’s access to other relief or assistance.

Read more here.


Ulta Beauty expands store closings; DC workers to get $2-per-hour raise

 

Ulta Beauty Inc. joined the growing list of retailers whose stores will remain temporarily closed until “it is safe to reopen.”

The beauty giant’s e-commerce operation, however, remains up and running. Ulta said it is providing employees working at the distribution centers a $2-per-hour wage increase “in gratitude for their continued commitment.” 

Read more here.


Gap Inc. reduces cap expenditures, postpones dividend payment, taps credit line

Gap Inc. has taken “precautionary actions” to strengthen financial flexibility in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The retailer is reducing capital expenditures by approximately $300 million in fiscal 2020 and reviewing all operating expenses for opportunities to reduce spending, including realigning inventory to expected sales trends.

Read more here.


In ‘first-of-its-kind’ order, Modell’s bankruptcy suspended due to COVID-19

The novel coronavirus has had an unexpected result.

A judge for the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of New Jersey on Friday granted a request from Modell's Sporting Goods to suspend its bankruptcy proceedings until at least April 30. Modell’s filed for Chapter 11 earlier this month with plans to liquidate all its 134 stores.

Read more here.


Starbucks, Krispy Kreme among chains giving free items to front-line responders

 

Several major chains are stepping up to offer support to healthcare workers during the COVID-19 outbreak. 

Read more here.


Grocers ease on-demand delivery for seniors during pandemic

Hundreds of grocery retailers across the country are partnering with DoorDash to make on-demand delivery more accessible to senior citizens nationwide.

Hy-Vee Inc., Woodman’s, Kowalski’s Markets, and hundreds of independent grocers like Piggly Wiggly, LifeThyme Natural Market, Le District, and Matherne’s, are collectively waiving delivery fees on orders fulfilled by DoorDash for those 60 years of age and over. More than 2,000 grocery store locations nationwide will be participating to make on-demand grocery delivery more accessible to seniors during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Read more here.


Kroger ramps up hiring — for the second time; onboarding time down to 72 hours

The Kroger Company is doubling down on its hiring efforts.

The supermarket giant said it plans to hire 20,000 workers across its stores, manufacturing plants and distribution centers during the next several weeks to help it to continue to provide fresh food and useful supplies amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The new hires will be in addition to the 23,500 new employees that have joined Kroger in recent weeks.

Read more here


Rent-A-Center stores offering ‘threshold deliveries’ in response to COVID-19

Rent-A-Center is altering how it fulfills online orders and limiting in-store shoppers.

The rent-to-own retailer is now providing “threshold deliveries,” dropping off merchandise at the customer’s front door. Although delivery personnel will not enter customer homes and in-house installations are suspended until further notice, Rent-A-Center says it will work closely with customers in making arrangements to get the product inside their home.

Read more here.


Walgreens makes it easier for customers to shop without leaving their cars

Walgreens has expanded drive-thru shopping in an effort to promote social distancing amid the COVID-19 crisis. 

The drugstore retailer is expanding the assortment at its 7,300-plus pharmacy drive-thrus from prescription to include more than 60 front-end products. The assortment features specifically selected household essentials such as cleaning supplies and sanitizers, over-the-counter products such as cough/cold, pain/fever and immunity support, grocery items, infant formula/adult nutrition, medical supplies, first aid and paper goods.

Read more here.


CSA Exclusive: COVID-19 impacts retailers on products, personalization, people

A closer look at the recent Chain Store Age COVID-19 survey reveals some very specific areas where the pandemic is disrupting operations.

The online survey, conducted online via the Chain Store Age site, asked readers four questions about what impact, if any, the ongoing COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic is having on their enterprise in the areas of fulfillment, sales, store operations, and workforce management. 

Read more here.


Party City extends store closures, taps into credit

Party City Holdco Inc. is extending the temporary shuttering of its stores.

The retailer said Friday that its corporate-owned stores will remain closed until further notice. 

Read more here.


Want COVID-19 information? Ask Alexa

Amazon is offering a variety of informational and communication services via its Alexa voice assistant and other platforms.

Using Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance, the Alexa health team built a U.S. experience that lets consumers use Alexa to check their risk level for COVID-19 at home. Consumers can ask, "Alexa, what do I do if I think I have COVID-19?" or "Alexa, what do I do if I think I have coronavirus?," and Alexa will ask a series of questions about their travel history, symptoms, and possible exposure. Based on responses, Alexa will provide CDC guidance given the consumer’s risk level and symptoms.

Read more here.


A look at the economic stimulus package

With the Senate unanimously approving the $2.2 trillion economic stimulus package – the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act —   the legislation heads to the House of Representatives on March 27 and then President Trump’s desk.

The act is designed to give the U.S. economy much more than a shot in the arm while jump-starting a machine that has been all but sidelined by the coronavirus pandemic as businesses have been shuttered and millions for employment.

Read more here.


 

Neiman Marcus, Joann partner to make gear for frontline healthcare workers

In an unlikely partnership, the nation’s premier luxury department store company is teaming up with a leading fabric and craft retailer to help fill part of the immediate need of materials for medical personnel. Gap Inc. has launched a similar effort.

Read more here.


Survey: Consumers shop differently during COVID-19 pandemic

COVID-19 is having a major impact on every aspect of life, and shopping is not exempt.

According to a new survey of 1,000 consumers from marketing technology and consumer engagement firm Valassis, half of respondents have reported changing their online shopping behavior during the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic. This figure includes 42% who are shopping online more and 8% who are shopping online less. 

Read more here.


Amazon offers supplies, educational & technical support for COVID-19'

An e-tail giant is providing a variety of services designed to provide relief from and combat the COVID-19 pandemic.

To help meet the immediate needs of residents in the Puget Sound region of its home state of Washington, Amazon is donating 250,000 items such as linens, towels, shelf-stable food, Amazon devices, entertainment items, and other supplies to four temporary housing sites in King County, Washington, supporting patients in quarantine or recovery due to COVID-19.

Read more here.


Nordstrom furloughs some corporate workers; extends store closures

The Nordstrom brothers are declining to take a salary from April through September. 

The department store retailer said that its executive leadership group will forgo a part of their salary from April through September and that CEO Erik Nordstrom and chief brand officer Peter Nordstrom will decline a salary during that time also. The company's board is also forgoing its cash compensation for six months. 

Read more here.


Abercrombie & Fitch U.S. stores closed ‘until further notice,’ draws down credit

Abercrombie & Fitch Co. is reevaluating all expenditures in the wake of the novel coronavirus outbreak.

The apparel retailer also said it will continue to keep all stores outside of the Asia-Pacific region temporarily closed until further notice. Abercrombie also said it has started the process to draw down $210 million from its revolving credit facility. Last week, the company withdrew most of its excess funds from Rabbi, providing it with about $50 million.

Read more here.


Kroger debuts pickup-only store

Kroger is responding to increased customer demand for in-store pickup of orders as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.

The grocery giant has turned a store in the Mount Carmel neighborhood of Cincinnati into its first-ever pickup-only location. Customers in the Greater Cincinnati area can select the store as their preferred pickup location when placing an order online or via the Kroger app. 

Read more here.


Tailored Brands furloughs all U.S. store workers, extends closures, cuts exec pay

The parent company of Men’s Wearhouse and Jos. A. Banks, is extending the temporary closure of its stores for several more weeks.

Citing what it called the latest guidance from federal, state and local government and health authorities, and in the interest of the health and safety of its customers and employees, Tailored Brands said it will keep its stores closed until May 4. 

Read more here.


People survey: Consumers watching how employers treat workers during COVID-19

How companies treat their workers during COVID-19 will influence future purchases.

That’s according to a survey by People magazine’s Insider Panel, in which 65% of respondents said that company actions during this time will likely impact which brands they decide to purchase in the future. The survey found that more than 89% are monitoring the treatment of employees by the companies they work for during these difficult times – watching whether corporations lay off workers, offer paid sick days, give back to their communities, etc. 

Read more here.


Meijer removes popular kid’s ride as part of Covid-19 store safety measures

Meijer is taking extra safety measures in its stores amid the COVID-19 outbreak.

The retailer is joining Walmart, Kroger and other retailers in installing plexiglass sneeze shields at all its check lanes. The shields will be installed beginning next week at Meijer’s 248 supercenters and grocery stores throughout Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky and Wisconsin.

Read more here.


Coach parent extends store closures, employee pay; cutting costs

Tapestry is keeping its store doors closed for another two weeks, at least.

The parent company of Coach, Kate Spade and Stuart Weitzman has extended store closures in North America and Europe for an additional two weeks, through April 10. Tapestry said it will reassess store closure decisions on a bi-weekly basis. Employees at closed locations will continue to receive pay and benefits during the next four weeks.

Read more here.


Lowe’s hiring 30,000; giving out bonuses; takes new store safety measures

Lowe’s is taking new preventative measures and announced an additional $80 million commitment in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

The home improvement giant is looking to hire 30,000 in-store positions across the U.S., including full-time, part-time, seasonal and overnight roles available for displaced workers who are seeking short-term opportunities. Positions are also available at distribution centers and other supply chain facilities.

Read more here.


7-Eleven installing sneeze guards

7-Eleven is among the growing ranks of retailers opting to install sneeze guards at its checkout lanes and/or front counters.

The c-store giant said it has ordered and will begin installing plexiglass sneeze guards at the front sales counter in its 9,000-plus U.S. 7-Eleven stores to help reduce the spread of COVID-19. Installations, which will begin at stores in areas hardest hit by the pandemic and expand to include all U.S. stores, will be complete in all stores in the next two weeks. 

Read more here.


Survey reveals demographic differences in consumer response to COVID-19

More men than women are stockpiling groceries and cutting back on spending during the COVID-19 pandemic.

That’s according to a consumer survey from digital product testing and decision-making platform First Insight, which found gender and generational differences have a lot to do with how shoppers are responding to the virus outbreak. The survey also revealed that news of the COVID-19 virus is impacting the shopping behavior of 75% of respondents, up from 45% compared to a survey fielded in late February. 

Read more here.


Amazon takes extra precautions across its vast enterprise for COVID-19

Amazon is adjusting a wide variety of fulfillment, delivery, and in-store practices to ensure it can continue operating safely during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The online giant has implemented a series of preventative health measures to increase the frequency and intensity of cleaning at its retail stores, fulfillment centers and other sites around the globe.

Read more here


J.C. Penney extends omnichannel options during pandemic

J.C. Penney Co. is making it easier for customers to buy and return items online.

The department store retailer, which has shuttered its stores until at least April 2 in response to the ongoing threat of COVID-19, is now qualifying all online orders of $49 or more for free standard shipping. Online assortment includes essential items and extended categories that are not offered in J.C. Penney stores.

Read more here.


Canada Goose dedicates manufacturing resources in fight against COVID-19

A luxury outerwear brand is leveraging its own resources to help stop the spread of the coronavirus. 

Canada Goose announced the company will leverage its manufacturing facilities to begin production of necessary medical gear for frontline healthcare workers and patients across Canada in the fight against COVID-19. The company has committed to producing medical scrubs and patient gowns, which are in short supply across Canada, at two of its manufacturing facilities, starting in Toronto and Winnipeg, with the opportunity to extend production across additional facilities as needed. The gear will be distributed to local hospitals at no cost.

Read more here.


ASA and RILA partner to address critical need for retail workers

The American Staffing Association and the Retail Industry Leaders Association are teaming up to address the immediate need to fill openings for workers at essential businesses such as grocery stores and pharmacies that provide critical services during the COVID-19 pandemic.

ASA is now providing an online, searchable directory to connect RILA member retailers to ASA member staffing agencies that can fill high-demand roles including warehouse workers; store clerks for unloading, stocking, cleaning, and sanitizing; cashiers and greeters; forklift selectors and pickers; and delivery drivers. The directory is also available on the RILA COVID-19 resources for retailers website.

Read more here.


Analysis: Retail Starting Down a New Path with COVID-19

Our focus has shifted dramatically. Fear has moved purchases from discretionary to necessity. We are thinking more about finding solutions than fulfilling desires. While our weekly U.S. consumption trends data shows sales for the first week of March (week ending March 7) looked similar to last year with 2% dollar growth overall, we expect to see this change over the next two reporting weeks. At the industry level, the data already shows some significant trends building. 

Read more here


Target delays store remodels, openings to focus all attention on COVID-19

Target Corp. is putting a temporary hold on some of its store remodeling and growth initiatives to minimize potential disruptions as it focuses on serving customers during the coronavirus pandemic.

The discounter also announced new in-store changes to protect shoppers and employees during the outbreak.

Read more here.


Camping World CEO to provide financial help to employees during COVID-19

Marcus Lemonis, chairman and CEO of Camping World Holdings and star of CNBC show “The Profit,” is stepping up to assist employees experiencing financial and personal difficulties due to the COVID-19 crisis. 

Camping World announced that Lemonis intends to sell up to 500,000 shares of Class A common stock that he beneficially owns at a future date in accordance with applicable securities laws and contribute the proceeds to fund specific employee relief. The fund is in addition to the assistance the company is providing.

Read more here


Walmart installing plexiglass barriers in stores; using new sanitizing solution

Walmart is taking additional step to ensure the well-being of both workers and customers.

The retail giant has started installing plexiglass barriers (sneeze guards) at the pharmacy lanes in Walmart and Sam’s Club stores. It also plans to install the guards at regular Walmart registers during the next two to three weeks. (Kroger is also installing plexiglass barriers in its stores.)

Read more here.


H-E-B serves seniors with targeted omnichannel service

A Texas-based regional grocery giant is providing seniors with personal shoppers during the COVID-19 crisis.

Working with its Favor Delivery on-demand delivery subsidiary, H-E-B will begin allowing customers across Texas age 60 and older to place same-day delivery orders with Favor using a curated list of products available from H-E-B. Eligible customers can make purchases via a senior support phone line, which is staffed with volunteer personal shoppers from both companies, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. seven days a week.

Read more here.


Kroger installing plexiglass partitions at registers, distance decals on floor

The Kroger Co. is doing its part to promote physical distancing in its stores.

The supermarket giant has begun installing plexiglass partitions at cash registers in many of its stores.  Kroger said it anticipates every checklane having a partition, including pharmacy counters and in-store Starbucks registers, within the next several weeks.

Read more here.


Instacart in massive hiring blitz; hiring 54,000 in California alone

Instacart is ramping up hiring big time to meet surging demand brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.

The online grocery delivery giant plans to bring on an additional 300,000 full-service shoppers during the next three months to meet escalating demand for grocery delivery and pickup in North America. Instagram expects to add 54,000 shoppers in California and 27,000 in New York. 

Read more here


PayPal offers COVID-19 support to retailers, customers, employees

PayPal is promising to aid all members of its ecosystem who may be impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

In an open letter posted on the PayPal site, Dan Schulman, president and CEO of PayPal, said the omnichannel payments platform will make its business financing solutions and customer service experts available to help any businesses using PayPal or its iZettle subsidiary that are feeling “unusual pressure” on their cash flow. 

Read more here


Grocers leverage in-store tech during COVID-19

Keeping employees and shoppers safe during this uncertain time is top of mind for all grocers. As a result, supermarkets are cutting store hours to give employees time to replenish shelves; establishing shopping hours for senior citizens; deep cleaning store shelves, equipment and restrooms both during and after operating hours, and stepping up delivery and in-store pick-up options. Grocery chains are also relying on technology to safely service in-store shoppers amid COVID-19.

Read more here.


Nordstrom is first U.S. department store retailer to close stores due to COVID-19

Nordstrom Inc. expressed confidence in its ability to weather “this challenging moment in time” as it announced the closure of its U.S. and Canadian stores for two weeks to help limit the spread of COVID -19.

The move, effective March 17, affects the company’s 380 stores, including 116 full-line stores in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico; 248 Nordstrom Rack stores; three Jeffrey boutiques; two clearance stores; six Trunk Club clubhouses; and five Nordstrom Local service hubs. Nordstrom’s e-commerce operations, which made up about a third of its 2019 sales, will remain open for business. 

Read more here.


Study: COVID-19 has big impact on buyer decisions

Customers are shifting their preferences in which products they buy, and in what quantities, as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Shopper intelligence/digital media provider Catalina Marketing is releasing sales tracking information from its buyer intelligence database that indicates dramatic changes in consumer behavior since mid-February. According to Catalina Marketing, between Feb. 15 (when consumer awareness of COVID-19 became widespread) and March 14, sales of powdered milk rose 375%. 

Read more here.


RPAI scales down redevelopment plans at Carillon

In reaction to the sudden economic downturn, Retail Properties of America, Inc., has decided to halt vertical construction plans at its Carillon project, which resides in Maryland between Baltimore and Washington, D.C.

Read more here


Exclusive: COVID-19 reveals fulfillment, workforce, store challenges

Chain Store Age survey reveals how COVID-19 is disrupting retail workflows including sales, customer experience, supply chain and workforce management. 

The online survey, conducted online via the Chain Store Age site from March 19-22, asked readers four questions about what impact, if any, the ongoing COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic is having on their enterprise. Here are the results. (Editor’s note: Due to rounding, responses to some questions may not total 100%).

Read more here


CSA Exclusive: COVID-19 has split impact on retail performance

COVID-19 is having a negative impact on sales for some retailers and is a boon for others.

Chain Store Age conducted a survey online from March 19-22 asking retailers about how the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is disrupting retail workflows throughout the enterprise. A leading 39% of respondents said it has had a negative impact on sales. However, a combined 38% reported the virus has been a “goldmine” (18%) or created significant uptick (20%). 

Here are a few brief thoughts about the deeper implications of these results.

Read more here


Best Buy moves to curbside pickup only amid surging demand

Best Buy Corp. has shifted all its stores to curbside pickup only in an effort to help protect customers and employees and keep up with surging demand for home office products during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Except where otherwise directed by state and local authorities, the retailer, starting March 22, has shifted to enhanced curbside service only for all its stores on an interim basis. 

Read more here


Starbucks adopts drive-thru- and delivery-only model

Visitors to Starbucks stores will now need to be behind the wheel of a car.

In response to the continuing COVID-19 pandemic, Starbucks is closing all consumer access to its company-operated café stores, including patio seating, through at least Friday, April 3. Customers will need to purchase food and beverage via either drive-thru window or Starbucks Delivers on-demand delivery. The retailer plans to offer Starbucks Delivers nationwide by the end of April. 

Read more here.


Walmart, Walgreens open COVID-19 testing sites in store parking lots

Walmart and Walgreens have opened their first drive-thru coronavirus testing sites, with both chains launching the effort in the suburban Chicago area. 

The sites, similar to the testing site that opened in the parking lot of a CVS Health store in Shrewsbury, Mass., are being launched in partnership with the federal government. The Walmart sites are located in the parking lots outside a Walmart Supercenter in Northlake, Ill., and one in Joliet, Illinois. 

Read more here.


CVS Health embarks on ‘most ambitious hiring’ drive in its history

CVS Health hiring workers with virtual job fairs, providing bonuses and adding benefits in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In what it called “the most ambitious hiring drive” in the company's history, CVS Health plans to immediately fill 50,000 full-time, part-time and temporary roles across the country. The available positions include store associates, home delivery drivers, distribution center employees and member/customer service professionals. 

Read more here


Homeland Security: Food stores, carry-out/QSR, DC employees essential

The Department of Homeland Security released updated COVID-19 guidance identifying the “essential critical infrastructure workforce” during the ongoing national emergency.  

In a Memorandum of Identification of Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers During Covid-19 Response, the department wrote: “If you work in a critical infrastructure industry, as defined by the Department of Homeland Security, such as healthcare services and pharmaceutical and food supply, you have a special responsibility to maintain your normal work schedule.” (The guidance is advisory and is not a federal directive to states, meaning state and local governments are not required to provide the same level of recognition.)

Read more here.


Target increases wages of hourly store, DC employees; adds new leave program

Target Corp. is investing more than $300 million in added wages, a new paid leave program, bonus payouts and associate and community relief fund contributions in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The discounter announced that all full-time and part-time hourly associates working in stores and distribution centers will receive a $2-per-hour wage increase through at least May 2. 

Read more here.


Etsy provides COVID-19 relief to sellers

A handmade and vintage goods e-commerce platform is introducing three new benefits for sellers who may be impacted by COVID-19.

In an open letter to sellers posted on the Etsy site, CEO Josh Silverman said the company is continuing all normal activities, as well as taking steps designed to bring to more buyers to sellers’ online shops. These include a $5 million investment through the end of April in the Offsite Ads program. 

Read more here


Walmart to hire 150,000 people amid COVID-19

Walmart is growing its workforce and expediting the hiring process to keep up with surging consumer demand during the coronavirus outbreak. It also announced $550 million in bonuses to reward workers. 

The nation’s largest private employer said it is hiring 150,000 new associates through the end of May to work in stores, clubs, distribution centers and fulfillment centers. The roles will be temporary at first, but many will convert to permanent roles over time, Walmart said.

Read more here.


Retail Insights: Becoming a digital retailer – quickly – in the face of COVID-19

There may soon be two types of retailers – the digital and the out-of-business.

I don’t need to explain COVID-19 and how it has completely changed the way consumers live and shop in the matter of a week. Many brick-and-mortar retailers are voluntarily shuttering stores, limiting hours and customer traffic, and/or adopting “to go”-only operational models during the pandemic. Increasingly, municipalities and states are passing restrictions on how consumers can congregate. Meanwhile, experts say it will be weeks or even months before the pandemic begins subsiding.

Read more here.


These three states have classified grocery store workers as essential

As confusion reigns about what is considered essential retail amid the coronavirus outbreak, three states have taken action. More are likely to follow suit.  

Minnesota, Michigan and Vermont have classified grocery workers as members of the essential workforce, according to a report by CSA sister publication Progressive Grocer. As such, supermarket employees in will have access to child care in a similar way to health care workers.

Read more here.


Joann Stores launches effort to make items to protect healthcare workers

Joann Stores is using its classrooms and supplies to mobilize crafters across the nation to help protect healthcare workers.

The arts-and-crafts retailer said that, beginning March 23 and while adhering to social distancing guidelines, it will open its classrooms to any who want to help make essential items for health care workers, including facemasks and covers, gowns and other items to donate to America’s hospitals.  

Read more here


Shipt to add thousands of shoppers for COVID-19 surge

In response to increased consumer demand for deliveries of grocery, household items, and medications due to the COVID-19 virus, Shipt is hiring shoppers in the metropolitan areas of Boston, Washington, D.C., Miami, New York City, Minneapolis, and Atlanta. Shipt seeks to add hundreds of shoppers each in Boston, Washington, D.C. and New York City; 1,000 shoppers in Atlanta; 2,000 shoppers each in Miami and Minneapolis; and 3,000 shoppers in Detroit. 

Read more here.


Retailers: Distribution centers ‘essential’ to serving communities

As states and local municipalities put out conflicting reports on what type of businesses and facilities are “essential” during the COVID-19 pandemic, the nation’s two leading retail organizations say it’s critically important that distribution centers make the list. 

"Companies are working around the clock to ensure stores are stocked with the items that families need most during this crisis,” said RILA president Brian Dodge. “Absolutely essential to that goal, is the functional operation of distribution centers around the country. As we all do our part to manage the impact of COVID-19, ensuring our supply chains are as functional as they can be is crucial and we ask that policymakers make clear that distribution centers fall into that essential category." 

Read more here


Rite Aid expands delivery, takes other steps in response to COVID-19

A major drugstore retailer is easing access to its inventory and strengthening store sanitary practices.

To better support customers and employees during the COVID-19 pandemic, Rite Aid is rolling out several new services and protocols. These include the immediate availability of home delivery service upon request, with waived delivery service fees for eligible prescriptions. Controlled substances and/or refrigerated medications are not eligible for delivery.

Read more here


CVS Health opens first parking lot COVID-19 test site

In what is designed to serve as a model going forward, CVS Health has opened up a COVID-19 testing site in the parking lot of its store in Shrewsbury, Mass., about 50 miles west of Boston.

The site is not open to the general public. Instead, testing will initially focus on first responders and health care workers. CVS emphasized that the site does not administer tests on a walk-up or drive-up basis. The company closed the store to increase safety and make operations easier

Read more here


Report: Amazon asks for customer cooperation in possible price gouging  probe

Amazon is reportedly requesting that its customers share information with the Department of Justice (DOJ) if asked.

According to Reuters, the e-tailer sent an email to customers who may have placed orders with sellers on its third-party marketplace informing them they may be contacted by the DOJ. The email, sent from Amazon senior law enforcement response specialist Joell Parks, does not specify the exact nature of the DOJ investigation.

Read more here.


Dollar Tree hiring 25,000 employees; 7-Eleven to add 20,00 jobs

Dollar Tree and 7-Eleven have joined the list of grocers, retailers and restaurant chains that are ramping up their hiring efforts to keep up with consumer demand in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak.

The discounter plans to hire 25,000 full- and part-time associates at Dollar Tree and Family Dollar stores and distribution centers across the U.S.  The open positions include full- and part-time managers at the company’s more than 15,000 store locations, along with flexible part-time shifts for cashiers and stockers. The positions in Dollar Tree’s 24 distribution centers include order fillers, equipment operators, and warehouse associates.

Read more here


Westfield U.S. malls to close

Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield (URW) has joined other major mall operators in temporarily closing its shopping centers.

The company announced that it is closing its shopping destinations in the United States for all but ‘essential’ retail outlets as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. The centers are closed through Sunday, March 29 (or until otherwise instructed by local authorities), at which point the group will re-evaluate the situation.

Read more here


Amazon temporarily suspends Prime Pantry due to high order volume

Amazon’s Prime Pantry service, which offers household and non-perishable pantry items, is currently not accepting as it works to fulfill its backlog in the wake of increased demand due to the coronavirus. Customers who placed an order recently and are waiting on delivery, however, will still receive their shipment.

Read more here


Survey: 85% of Americans to alter buying habits because of COVID-19

The coronavirus has significant short- and long-term effects on brand affinity and consumer purchases in the U.S.

That’s according to a survey conducted during the last two days by research from GfK, which revealed that 67% of Americans are concerned about their ability to make ends meet during the crisis, and that 85%  expect to change their purchase behavior because of the virus.

Read more here


Report: Order fulfillment time up almost 40% in past three weeks

New data shows how COVID-19 is impacting shipping and fulfillment.

According to data from delivery experience management company Convey, shipping volume for cleaning and household supplies is, not surprisingly, up 52%. At the same time, there are significant delays in order fulfillment and delivery. 

Read more here


Taubman Centers temporarily closing all but two of its properties

Taubman Centers is going dark in response to COVID-19 with the exception of two outdoor centers. 

The real estate investment trust said its malls will close at the end of business on March 19 and will remain shuttered through March 29, or later if required by state or local government. Tenants at the company’s open-air, street-front retail centers – Country Club Plaza (Kansas City, Mo.) and International Market Place (Waikiki, Hawaii) – may continue to operate. The announcement comes on the heels of Simon’s decision to close all of its retail properties in the U.S. until March 29.

Read more here


Tractor Supply stores to remain open as an ‘essential, needs-based retailer’

Tractor Supply Company is committed to keeping its stores open during the Covid-19 outbreak.

The Brentwood, Tenn.-based retailer sells “essential” items for the rural lifestyle, ranging from animal feed, livestock and pet medicines to agricultural supplies, and heating fuel along with hardware and maintenance supplies. Starting on March 22, Tractor Supply stores will be open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Saturday, and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday, until further notice. 

Read more here


Ross Stores reduces CAPEX plans due to coronavirus

Ross Stores is cutting back in response to the impact of COVID-19 on the company’s operations.

The off-price retailer said that it is reducing its capital expenditure and expense plans and realigning inventory positions to meet the current demand.

Read more here


Amazon warehouse worker tests positive for COVID-19

According to The Atlantic, Amazon has confirmed an hourly worker at its Queens, NY fulfillment facility (internally referred to as DBK1) tested positive for COVID-19 on Wednesday, March 18. An independent group of Amazon employees called Amazonians United sent a text to employees at the center stating, “We’re writing to let you know that a positive case of the coronavirus (COVID-19) was found at our facility today.”

Read more here


Tailored Brands to temporarily close fulfillment centers, reduce cash outlays

Tailored Brands is shutting its e-commerce fulfillment centers and limiting or deferring all discretionary spending in response to the coronavirus pandemic. 

The menswear giant, whose brands include Men's Wearhouse, Jos. A. Bank, said it is taking “aggressive and prudent actions to ensure the business has ample liquidity to weather this uncertain period.” As a “proactive measure” and with an “abundance of caution,” on March 16, it drew down $260 million from its revolving credit facility.

Read more here


COVID-19 – How is it affecting your retail operations?

With this unprecedented public health crisis unfolding, Chain Store Age would like to give our readers the opportunity to share your own first-hand perspective on COVID-19. We encourage you to take a moment of your time and answer a quick, four-question survey to gauge how COVID-19 is affecting retailers in the areas of supply chain fulfillment, store operations, workforce management, and revenue. 

We will share results and insights from the survey on our website on Monday, March 23. Please share your valuable experience with the industry and help your fellow retailers survive and thrive in this uniquely challenging environment. We are all in this together.

Take our quick survey here


7-Eleven details enhanced cleaning, safety measures

7-Eleven has added a new payment option to customers concerned about contact amid the coronavirus outbreak. 

The convenience store chain is now offering a contactless delivery option that allows customers who order through its delivery app to indicate that their delivery be "contactless," with the goods left at the door by the driver. Items available include beverages, fresh and hot foods, household items, groceries and more.  

Read more here


Walmart, Walmart Foundation commit to global COVID-19 response effort

Walmart and the Walmart Foundation have committed $25 million to support organizations on the front lines responding to the outbreak of the global COVID-19 pandemic. 

The funds will be used to strengthen the global public health response, bolster food security, and support the needs of local communities in the U.S. and internationally.

Read more here.


ICSC asks government to guarantee or pay for business interruption coverage

In a statement, ICSC president and CEO Tom McGee noted that the majority of the estimated $6.7 trillion of consumer activity generated by the retail, food-and-beverage, entertainment and consumer service industries occurs within America’s shopping centers, with nearly one out of four American jobs retail-related. Nearly 70% of the shopping center tenants are small businesses that employ less than 10 people.

Read more here


Amazon donates to fight COVID-19 in the D.C. metro area

Amazon wants to help mitigate the impact of COVID-19 (coronavirus) in the Washington, D.C., region.

The e-tailer, whose “HQ2” second headquarters campus is located in the greater Washington, D.C., area in Arlington, Va., has donated $1 million to four community foundations. The non-profit groups – ACT for Alexandria, Arlington Community Foundation, Community Foundation for Northern Virginia, and the Greater Washington Community Foundation, will each use a portion of Amazon’s $1 million donation as flexible funds for grants to nonprofits addressing food insecurity, housing and shelter, and providing emergency financial assistance.

Read more here


COVID-19 Store Update: J.C. Penney, Gap Inc., Genesco shutter

More retailers are joining the growing list of companies that are temporarily closing their stores to help stop the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. (The nation’s largest mall operator, Simon, is also going dark.)

Read more here


Kroger has 10,000 job openings in wake of increased demand

The Kroger Co. has upped its hiring to keep up with increased consumer demand in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.
 
The nation’s largest supermarket chain hired more than 2,000 people in the last week to keep up with the surge in demand, CEO Rodney McMullen told CNBC on Tuesday. Kroger currently has more than 10,000 openings for positions across its plants, warehouses and stores, McMullen said.

Read more here


Nation’s biggest mall operator shuts off lights for a while

Simon’s domestic properties are dark in the U.S. until the end of March.

Simon announced that after “extensive discussions with federal, state and local officials and in recognition of the need to address the spread of COVID-19,” it will close all of its retail properties in the U.S. until March 29.

Read more here


Best Buy putting limit on in-store traffic to 10 to 15 customers at a time

At a time when consumers are more reliant on technology than ever before, Best Buy is taking action to keep up with consumer demand and help stop the spread of the coronavirus.

The nation’s largest consumer electronics retailer said that starting Monday, March 23, and at least for the next two weeks, it will serve customers through limited access to its stores and curbside pickup. Only 10 to 15 customers at a time will be allowed into a Best Buy. (Also, as of March 18, store operating hours are from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. local time.)

Read more here


Home Depot temporarily adjusts store hours, extends paid-off time in response to COVID-19

It’s not only grocers and Amazon that are selling high-demand items during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Home Depot said its stores will now close daily at 6 p.m. (opening hours will remain unchanged) to give stores the ability to staff appropriately and provide additional time to perform cleaning and restock shelves to keep up with demand.

Read more here


Batteries Plus Bulbs keeps the power on at stores, adds pickup service

A specialty electronics retailer is keeping stores open – with a new social distance option.

Batteries Plus Bulbs stores plan to remain open throughout the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic. The retailer says it supplies products and services that meet immediate customer needs or cannot be found elsewhere, such as batteries for wheelchairs and mobility scooters and sealed lead acid.

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Dollar General offer senior shoppers-only shopping hours

Dollar General Corp. wants to help senior shoppers "avoid busier and more crowded shopping periods."

The discounter announced that, starting March 17, it is dedicating the first hour of each shopping day in its approximate 16,275 stores nationwide to senior customers. Dollar General is requesting that other customers plan their shopping trips around this window order to provide seniors, one of the groups most at risk for Covid-19, with the ability to purchase the items they need and want at the beginning of each day to avoid busier and more crowded shopping periods. 

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Retail group calls for ‘bold’ economic COVID-19 solutions, suspension of tariffs

The Retail Industry Leaders Association detailed several economic measures that should be a part of a larger stimulus package to aid the broader U.S. economy in response to COVID-19. 

In a letter sent to President Trump, the Secretary of Treasury and Congressional leaders, RILA called for a temporary suspension of all Section 301 tariffs that have fallen “directly on the retail community.” It also said that to ensure supply chains remain as functional as possible, distribution centers should be included in any definition of “essential business.”

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Dunkin’ removes seating and limits service

Dunkin' is limiting service to drive-thru, carry-out and delivery only as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The restrictions, effective immediately, applies to all of Dunkin’s U.S. locations. The company said it is temporarily removing tables and chairs from all its locations and outdoor patios to prevent the congregation of customers. It also will encourage mobile ordering through the Dunkin' app to limit person-to-person contact and to move guests through the restaurants as quickly as possible, promote delivery service through Grubhub and other partners and expand curbside service where available.

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Amazon limits shipments to its warehouses to medical supplies, household staples

Surging consumer demand caused by the coronavirus pandemic has caused Amazon to temporarily stop accepting certain products in its warehouses. 

The online giant told sellers and vendors that it is prioritizing products coming into its fulfillment centers through its Fullfillment by Amazon program to free up inventory space for items that are currently in high demand due to the Covid-19 outbreak. The action is in place through April 5. (Shipments created before March 17 will still be received at fulfillment centers.)

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Amazon limits shipments to its warehouses to medical supplies, household staples

Surging consumer demand caused by the coronavirus pandemic has caused Amazon to temporarily stop accepting certain products in its warehouses. 

The online giant told sellers and vendors that it is prioritizing products coming into its fulfillment centers through its Fullfillment by Amazon program to free up inventory space for items that are currently in high demand due to the Covid-19 outbreak. The action is in place through April 5. (Shipments created before March 17 will still be received at fulfillment centers.)

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Wayfair, other retailers adjust online operations to deal with COVID-19

Retailers aren’t only adjusting their brick-and-mortar operations to combat the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19).

Several retailers are also taking action to help ensure their e-commerce business does not promote the spread of the virus to customers or employees. In an online letter signed by Wayfair co-founders Niraj Shah and Steve Conine, the online home furnishings giant said it is following guidance and best practices from the Centers from Disease Control (CDC). These include increased daily cleaning routines across all facilities and delivery operations (such as use of sanitizer and more frequent equipment cleaning).

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Target makes more store changes, adds employee benefits to deal with COVID-19

arget Corp. is reducing store hours, increasing select employee benefits and making other adjustments in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. 

Beginning  March 18, all Target stores will open at their regularly scheduled times but close by 9 p.m. (local time) daily to give employees extra time for cleaning and restocking each day. The retailer also will maintain limits on select products and ask shoppers to purchase only what they need “so there's enough supply to accommodate this increased demand."

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Nordstrom, Macy's temporarily close stores

Two of the nation's premier department store retailers have closed their doors amid the coronavirus outbreak.

Nordstrom Inc. expressed confidence in its ability to weather “this challenging moment in time” as it announced the closure of its U.S. and Canadian stores for two weeks to help limit the spread of COVID-19.  The move affects the company’s 380 stores, including 116 full-line stores in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico; 248 Nordstrom Rack stores; three Jeffrey boutiques; two clearance stores; six Trunk Club clubhouses; and five Nordstrom Local service hubs. Nordstrom’s e-commerce operations, which made up about a third of its 2019 sales, will remain open for business. 

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