5 Articles: The Changing Face of Retail

Usually this time of year is a flurry of shopping—food needed for tasty holiday treats, the perfect gifts for those we love or great discounts on Black Friday. 2020 has been the year of great change, though, and the retail industry has not escaped the reach of the pandemic. Instead of flocking to stores, many customers are choosing online shopping. Those who do shop in person do so with a mask on, hand sanitizer at the ready and hopefully a big “thank you!” for retail workers providing service during this time.

How will COVID-19 continue to alter the retail industry and change customer experiences? Read these articles to learn about the changing face of retail, for big box stores and your favorite local shop alike. You can read these articles using CPL's Online Resources, but we've also noted if an article is available freely on the web.

"Shoppers Stream to Curbside, Transforming Economics of Retail" by Sapna Maheshwari and Michael Corkery
The New York Times, October 11, 2020
The popularity of curbside pickup shows Americans still want to physically visit brick-and-mortar stores—even if they can only get as close as the curb in their cars. This article examines how the trend might continue long after the pandemic and how retail workers’ job duties could be affected.

"Can Retailers Reinvent Holiday Cheer in a Pandemic?" by Cara Salpini
Retail Dive, October 26, 2020 (also available on the Retail Dive website)
Santa may not be available for pictures in many malls across America this year, but retailers are still finding ways to bring holiday cheer to shoppers. Stores are focusing on providing interactive, virtual shopping experiences rather than traditional in-store holiday displays and sales.

"Once the Innovators, Department Stores Fight to Stay Alive; Decades of Complacency Led to Stores That Are Stale and Slow to Adapt; a Lack of 'Pizazz'" by Suzanne Kapner
Wall Street Journal, August 4, 2020
Department stores used to be a one-stop shopping experience where customers could expect excellent service, quality products and maybe even a visit to the lunch counter. In this article, Kapner explains how the fall of department stores is not just a result of the pandemic, but is instead a result of decades of losing touch with consumer needs and the increased availability of brand-name items in online stores. She writes that if department stores such as Macy’s want to survive, they need to create customer experiences with more “pizazz.”

"A Reimagined Retail Experience" by Abha Bhattarai
The Washington Post, May 22, 2020
Changes in retail experiences are not limited to wearing masks and being greeted at the door with hand sanitizer. Instead of being encouraged to linger in stores, customers can expect to find a more grab-and-go operation with obvious attention to safety measures. Bhattarai describes how retailers are considering every opportunity, from folding display clothing differently to changing store inventory, to create a safer but still enjoyable shopping environment.

"COVID-19 Is Forcing Small Stores Across Chicago to Try Online Retail, But 'We’re Not Amazon'" by Lauren Zumbach
Chicago Tribune, September 16, 2020
Supporting small businesses, in place of giant corporations like Amazon, has been a retail trend in the past few years. Events such as Small Business Saturdays in Chicago have given consumers the chance to shop locally and physically visit small stores across the city. In the face of the pandemic, however, small stores are struggling to set up online shopping and quick shipping to rival Amazon and other large retailers. This article shows how several small stores in Chicago are adjusting to the necessity of an online presence.

How are you planning on holiday shopping this year?