FutureTrends: 2021 Post-Pandemic Retail Predictions

May 14, 2020

Hello again from ChatterBlast’s Creative Director Matthew Ray! Welcome to Week 2 of our 2021 post-pandemic blog series featuring some of Philadelphia’s most forward-thinking leaders. In case you missed last week’s dives into the future of fashion and fitness with Kristin Detterline and Gavin McKay, check them out here and here. This week, we’re taking a look into the future of retail with Dorothea Gamble and Dagmar Mitchell, owners of Trunc. Read on to see why they predict that small shop retailers will rule again!

What will retail look like in the near future? Will guests have to take a ticket to enter and have their temperatures checked as they wait to get into the store? Will there be a vat of disinfectant at the door or will it be sprayed in the air every 16 seconds? Will guests be dressed in spacesuit-like protective garb or wear a head to toe plastic covering?

Maybe there won’t be inventory – just pictures to order from. How will guests handle the 6ft requirement? Will stores use yellow reflective caution tape on the floors? What will become of the cash wrap? Will clients receive products by conveyor belt? How will customers pay? Will we be scanning pupils for payment?

Oh my goodness, that would be a nightmare for all!

It may not be as drastic as that, but store owners will have to create a clean space so that they and the consumer can feel safe.  This can be achieved by going back to the basics of retail, before malls and shopping centers took over, where shops were spacious enough to bring in a baby buggy, lighting was perfect, soft music playing and specialty products only in small quantities were for sale. When a guest purchased because they loved it and the possibility of it not being there the next time was a good bet.   

Inside Trunc in Northern Liberties

Today’s shops will have to feel spacious, airy and easy to maneuver. Stores will have to be very selective with their inventory and buy the right quantity. Signage will have to be precise, easy to understand and placed where guests can easily observe. Walls can be used to show product, art, or show videos of new products and not used as signage for safety posters. 

Stores will have to control the amount of guests that enter the shops; signage should be outside at the entrance. It should Include; what is being done to keep them safe; (the amount of people that are allowed in at a time and mask requirements). Also, setting tables 6ft apart when possible will be mandatory and control the flow of traffic.

To give a look of luxury, hand sanitizers in unique containers on every table and on select shelves will also keep the guest feeling safe.  Plastic gloves or some type of covering should be available for those guests that don’t like hand sanitizer. 

Stores should also have tasteful signage made that explains their safety policies. The signs should be kept small, work with the décor and placed next to the hand sanitizers. Also, instead of placing large posters on the walls, guests should be greeted with an explanation as to what is being done to keep them safe.  

Small luxury shops will have to be on their game when ordering inventory. Buy only what you think will sell and in the right quantities.  Overstocked stores with product that has to be put on sale will become a thing of the past. The gross margin won’t allow for it, stores will have to become clean and lean; stop buying trends and invest in timeless.  Stores can make their spaces a shopping experience despite COVID-19 guidelines, by keeping them clean, spacious, stocked properly, and showcased with uniquely functional and (beautiful) products.  Shops have to offer a wonderful shopping experience, as well as become seamless in providing a safe environment.