Ensuring in-store sanitary safety
As they reopen, retailers are required “to manage flows” and guarantee health protection measures. For example, masks are now mandatory if distancing is impossible. To comply with these new regulatory measures, the Galeries Lafayette announced that the number of customers at a time would be limited, and the flow of visitors organized with separate entrances and exits, ensuring a ratio of one person per 10 square meters. Other measures have also been undertaken: mandatory masks for customers and employees, hydroalcoholic gel, ground markings to ensure that distances are respected and the installation of Plexiglas windows at checkouts.
Similar measures were implemented by The Galeries Lafayette’s competitor and neighbor Le Printemps. In Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield’s shopping centers (such as Vélizy 2, Parly 2 and Ulis 2), the system is comparable, but wearing a mask is only recommended.
Regarding fitting rooms, the National Clothing Federation has drawn up a good practice guide recommending that each fitting room should be disinfected after customer use and advising on plastic instead of fabric curtains and asking for clothing not purchased to be quarantined for at least four hours. A lot of stores have already chosen to increase this recommended time to 24 hours.
Tediber, a French startup disrupting the bedding market, operates its concept store “The Night Club” in the Marais district in Paris. In an interview by Knight Frank for a study on the French Retail Market, Julien Sylvain, founder of Tediber, explained how the brand was keen to respect the requested efforts to protect employees and visitors. In addition to putting up posters asking customers to wear a mask and use hydro alcoholic gel; Tediber has agreed to limit the number of customers to four people (for a surface of 60 sqm) at a time, and impose a one-way circulation in the store. They have also organized their staff into two teams that do not interact with each other.
We use single-use sheets (changed by our sales assistants) for testing our products. We have also increased the frequency of cleanings and turned off the air conditioning and heating until further notice. As far as the flow of products is concerned, the problem is less important because the majority of our customers do not leave with their products but choose a delivery slot.
Tourists, a key element to the rebound of the retail business
Out of the 50,1 million tourists who visited Paris Region in 2019 more than half of them made purchases of durable goods. Among them, nearly 60% came from abroad, including the United States, the United Kingdom, Spain, Italy and Germany. It is not surprising therefore that the international travel bans made necessary by the global pandemic were a hard blow for retail.
In an interview with Les Echos, Nicolas Houzé, General Manager of Galeries Lafayette and BHV/Marais, explained that the company was hit both by administrative closures and by the absence of tourists in Paris. Foreign customers generate half of the sales of the Haussmann store. He estimated that over the year 2020, the group would lose half of its turnover, i.e. 1 billion euros. Needless to say, the reopening was eagerly awaited, even if, with only the French clientele for now and a higher operating cost due to the new security measures, profit will likely plummet for some time. To mitigate these losses, the chain’s stores are beginning their rebirth with slightly tighter opening hours requiring a little less staff.
When Galeries Lafayette reopened on May 30th, the first clients in 77 days were welcomed with a round of applause:
With 223 shopping centers and 16 major department stores, it is crucial for Paris Region, the world’s number one luxury shopping destination, to successfully ensure the health and safety of its shoppers and secure the future of its retailers. With the upcoming Schengen border reopening expected on June 15, one can only hope that this will bring us one step closer back to normality if European tourists are willing to travel – and do shopping – abroad.
 Source : Choose Paris Region Key Facts & Figures 2020 https://chooseparisregion.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/Paris-Region-Facts-and-Figures.-2020-Edition.pdf
 Source: CRT Paris IDF + CROCIS + CCI Paris IDF http://pro.visitparisregion.com/Outils-et-Presse/Presse/Communiques-de-presse/Communique-de-presse-Resultats-d-une-etude-sur-le-tourisme-de-shopping-a-Paris-Region