Stores Reopening: A Retail Safari

How has retail adapted to its biggest ever change? Open again for the first time since late March, it was important to see first hand the adaptations that non-essential shops had made and whether it would feel ‘normal’. Queuing, floor stickers and sanitising stations were bound to be prolific, but would any brands shake off the circumstances, exceed expectations and provide customers with a
wow-factor experience?

Hand sanitiser, check. Face mask, check. Pre-booked parking, check. Birmingham was the first destination on the Retail Safari, with Selfridges and the ‘World’s Biggest’ Primark the main targets. Out of town retail parks were also of interest. With public transport still to be avoided unless absolutely necessary, would The Fort on the outskirts of Birmingham, and Fosse Park in Leicester benefit from their car-centric set-ups?


Although no store managed to provide the wow-factor experience, it was very encouraging to see many customers willing to leave their homes and enter the physical retail world. Online shopping still cannot replace the in-store experience for some. Shops had adapted well to the obvious changes they were required to make, but I did end the day feeling that many had just done the bare minimum necessary to open.

Other than the queue’s for Sports Direct and Primark, city centre shopping began calmly, building into a much busier afternoon that came with its own social distancing issues. Shoppers were undeterred and Birmingham was beginning to look ‘normal’ again.

Out of town retail parks did benefit from their ease of parking and saw good footfall for a Monday, of course the weather did help!



18th June 2020