BIG W prepares for first late-night shopping since pandemic began
BIG W is opening stores up to Thursday late night shopping for the first time in more than six weeks as shoppers vote with their foot and begin flooding back to shopping centres.
Retailer BIG W is showing one of the first signs of a retail resurgence post pandemic as it prepares to offer late-night Thursday trading for the first time in more than six weeks.
From today, BIG W outlets around the country will remain open until 9pm on Thursdays as dwindling case numbers and public health advice prompt the retailer into offering more choice for consumers.
Teresa Rendo, General Manager of Commercial at BIG W, told 9News.com.au that the extended trading hours will actually allow the retailer to have better social distancing practices.
"We have seen an increase in customers physically visiting our store and by resuming the late night trading hours we're able to give our customers more flexibility to shop when it's convenient for them but also more importantly make social distancing even easier to maintain," said Ms Rendo.
"We've got 78 stores that have contactless drive-up, we've got contactless pick-up in every single store, we've got hand sanitising stations at the front of stores and trolley wipes as well as increased cleaning hours."
BIG W was among a few retailers who kept the doors open during the more stringent restrictions, bringing its trading hours down to 9am to 6pm to accommodate for lower foot traffic and increased cleaning time.
Ms Rendo said each store has been given a maximum number of shoppers allowed in to ensure social distancing protocols can be met even in peak periods.
"Through these busy times in the last few months we've also made sure we've maintained a reasonable number of customers who are in store at any one time because there are limits," said Ms Rendo.
"Our store greeters and security guards manage that with a one-in-one-out system once the store reaches it's maximum number of customers inside."
A potential silver lining for the retailer has been the boom in online shopping, and the radical shift to contactless transactions which many BIG W customers have encountered for the first time.
"I think there are plenty of things we'll come to find as the new normal. We're seeing our digital and online sales spike up to three times what they were last year and we believe that online shopping for many people has probably been a first time in the last six or seven weeks," said Ms Rendo.
"Pick-up and contactless pick-up I think will stay and what it has shown us as a retailer is that we really need to be agile."
Paul Zahra, CEO of the Australian Retailers Association, said the true impact of coronavirus on retailers won't be known for months.
"It's been unquestionably tough for retailers, and the true recovery picture won't start to emerge until physical stores reopen more fully in the coming weeks," said Mr Zahra.
"We are likely to see a phased re-opening - retailers have different considerations some will open key stores and wait to open others.
"Some have cafes attached and will need to delay that area opening. Others are still negotiating with landlords."
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