Consumers who have returned to recently reopened stores and those that will do so in the future will walk into substantially different retail environments than they were used to before the novel coronavirus pandemic upended everyday life and business in the U.S.
Chain stores such as American Eagle Outfitters, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Kohl’s, Macy’s, Target, Walmart and many others have taken steps including requiring employees and customers, at least in some cases, to wear face masks. They have increased sanitation regimens and begun controlling shopping cart usage by handing out newly cleaned ones to customers entering stores. They have erected Plexiglass dividers, closed or reconfigured fitting rooms, expanded online order fulfillment from stores, promoted curbside pickup and increased customer communications through mobile apps and texting.
The approach that retailers have taken relative to secondary displays and merchandisers has also changed in light of new realities, most notably the need to provide customers and associates with space to social distance. An article in the May/June issue of Creative Magazine cites a number of examples of display solutions: stands to communicate important information, hand sanitizer stations, floor graphics and a wide variety of other merchandising vehicles in both traditional and digital configurations.
While space is a critical element of the new retailing reality, it’s important for stores not to overlook the value that endcaps, in-line merchandisers and secondary displays play in driving sales. The overall lift index for displays in mass merchants is 1.4, according to a 2014 POPAI study. That means a product’s sales increase 1.4 times when a display is present.
Displays are critical for retailers seeking to drive impulse and add-on purchases. This is particularly true for retailers that are looking to quickly move merchandise that went unsold as stores were forced to close. Moving inventory out will be key to aligning it to demand going forward.
Although the specific timeline for a return to some degree of normalcy is uncertain, I believe that fewer displays will be seen this coming holiday season. With that said, it is likely that by the first quarter of 2021, promotional displays, curated destination centers and new arrivals will be in full view. That suggests that planning must begin now.