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New Zealand Retail Re-Opens - a review of how retailers responded

Updated: Aug 27, 2020

The 28th of April marked a special day in NZ this year. Not only was it my birthday (yes I know we don't have to count any birthday in lockdown and I will make full use of that one), but we moved to Level 3. This was an important day for retail and hospitality as it allowed some "safe trading" to commence after weeks in isolation and lockdown.

Level 3 allowed online retailing and contactless click and collect to commence and takeaways and food delivery to return (hallelujah as I wasn't cooking on my birthday). But many stores were ill-prepared to be able to fulfil customers orders seamlessly and easily, hence COVID-19 being responsible for many new digital transformation projects. And YES, retailers could move super-fast if they needed to!

But Thursday last week (14 May) marked NZ’s move to Level 2 and a significant change from the restrictions of Level 3 and 4 in the fight against COVID-19.

Whether you are a retailer, staff member or customer this was exciting but a little scary as well. Most retailers, hospitality and services could commence trading under new tighter rules including social distancing, cleaning and contact tracing.

So the team at RetailX took to the streets. We wanted to see how customers were reacting, how retailers were coping and what shopping felt like in our new abnormal normal. We took hundreds of photos and have selected a few to give you a taste and see what day 1 and 2 were like.

I can say personally it felt odd. A little post-apocalyptic. The city felt eerie and we waited for the zombies to return. It felt dull and a little morose. I'm a big talker and every salesperson was happy to chat as business, had been really slow and they had been locked up for so long. For many, it was their first venture (other than a walk near home) in weeks.

Eating lunch at the Westfield Newmarket foodcourt felt weird trying to navigate where to stand and eat lunch as all chairs had been removed. Watching the preparation of food with no gloves also felt odd but we knew they were washing their hands often so it was okay. There is a new trend in funky facemasks but even that seems silly as people moved them to speak to each other (go figure - but they looked pretty).

There is no rule book for this. We are making it up as we all go along. But check out our findings and advice in the following paper. Simply click on the image below to DOWNLOAD.

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