Retailing at the time of COVID-19

Rupkatha Bhowmick

The global spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus disease) is affecting businesses and individuals. Retail – a people’s business – is dealing with the impact, showing resilience by undertaking the required measures while still meeting customer demands.

Recently in a LinkedIn post, Alain Bejjani, CEO, Majid Al Futtaim – Holding spoke about how Carrefour is fulfilling the increasing demand for online orders. He highlighted the creation of Carrefour “Dark Stores” and hard work of its employees to better optimise fulfilment with utmost efficiency. Several other local businesses – including the likes of KRUSH Brands, Kcal to name but a few – have stepped up efforts to ensure utmost hygienic handling of food as well as safety of its people and premises.

Meanwhile, several brick-and-mortar businesses have taken a precautionary measure to shut shop until end of this month. Apple has announced global closure of its retail stores outside of Greater China until March 27, 2020. This includes the Apple stores in the UAE – at Mall of the Emirates, The Dubai Mall and Yas Mall. However, the online arm of Apple will be operational. Urban Outfitters has also decided to remain closed at least until March 28, 2020. Meanwhile, shopping malls and retail stores are meticulously following the World Health Organisation (WHO)directives to maintain utmost hygiene.

“We know the effects of this virus are impacting millions of people, directly and indirectly, in the US and around the world. Retail brands are always on the frontline with citizens in communities large and small, and they are partnering with the healthcare industry and government officials to ensure COVID-19 is contained and mitigated as quickly as possible. Retailers are grateful for the opportunity to play such an important role and look forward to continued collaboration on the municipal, state and federal levels,” said Matthew Shay, president & CEO of the National Retail Federation (NRF) through an official statement.

Moving over to leisure and entertainment, through a Tweet, the Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM) has directed all entertainment destinations in Dubai to suspend operations from March 15 until end of the month, while several entertainment and cultural destinations in Abu Dhabi will also remain closed.