This morning MnRA hosted an open conversation with retailers and local chambers of commerce across the state surrounding attracting and serving customers around the holiday season during the pandemic. Below is a recap of some of the ideas discussed.
Retailers are expanding capacity, but only when they can continue to operate with social distancing and other safety measures. With capacity changes many are re-examining store flow and adding additional protections such as plexi-glass shielding. Customers and employees need to be safe and feel comfortable in the store.
Retailers are taking an extra moment to remind their employees about safe store practices as well as reminding customers that shopping can be a safe activity.
Now is a good time to review signage, especially around masking, to make sure expectations are clear to customers, and that retailers are following the law and guidelines.
One of the best ways to promote safe store environments is to share how retail community leaders are setting a leading example.
In order to spread out customers, some retailers are expanding hours around the holidays.
Retailers are spreading out holiday deals over a longer period of time. As an example, Black Friday deals are available the Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday before the Friday after Thanksgiving.
Some retailers are sticking with an appointment-only model as that has been well received by customers.
Communities are coming together with their chamber of commerce and CVB to create safe holiday attractions that invite shoppers over longer periods of time, and with a focus on keeping shopping dollars in the community. Some of the ideas include community coupon books and doubling down on “chamber bucks”.
Many communitiesthrough their chamber of commerce are trying newly created safe shopping events this holiday season with creative taglines like “Keep The Cheer Here”, “Hometown Holiday Stroll”, “Sleigh Your Neighbors”. Other engagement ideas include gift guides listing curbside, online and in-store shopping options, business holiday lighting contests, and shop local raffles.
Retailers are engaging customers via social media, including conducting give-aways in order to build their customer engagement lists.
Retailers are partnering with non-profits on promotions that are mutually beneficial.
Retailers are running in to staffing challenges, but many are responding through planning and anticipation of employees being unavailable for work.