Right before I waved goodbye to 2019, I checked the 2020 calendar and was excited to see that in 2020 a lot of holidays would fall on weekends. For example, Halloween is on a Saturday and Christmas is on a Friday…but then COVID-19 hit.
Very quickly into the year, how we celebrate holidays changed. Our St. Patrick’s Day parade was canceled, Easter was spent at home, the 4th of July had no fireworks and so on. While it was hard, it was out of everyone’s control and for the best.
It wasn’t until I walked into Marshalls a month after stores re-opened and saw Easter decorations prominently on the shelves (long after Easter had passed) that I started thinking about how retailers, in particular, would adjust for the remainder of the 2020 holidays. As someone who loves to shop both online and in-store, and looks forward to holiday shopping, I offer three pieces of advice for retailers:
- Offer different shopping options. People have different comfort levels and also different cities have different orders in place, so it’s very important for companies to offer multiple types of shopping experiences including quick shipping, curbside pickup and in cities that allow it, a very safe in-store shopping experience with limited capacity.
- Be flexible. We are all navigating uncharted waters and flexibility is of utmost importance. Extend your return policy, take returns on sale items if you can’t have open fitting rooms and most importantly listen to your customers.
- Take care of your people. Your employees are only human and just as stressed about the pandemic as everyone else. By taking good care of your people, you will see a positive reflection on how they treat your customers. I think it’s great many retailers are closing on Thanksgiving this year because now more than ever people need a break to be with family.
In true 2020 fashion, this holiday season will be unpredictable, but that’s not to say it can’t be good.