Retailers Try Out “Drive-by-Shopping” as COVID-19 Restrictions Loosen

In an effort to begin re-opening the state’s economy, Gov. Greg Abbott allowed previously-shuttered retailers in Texas to begin offering curbside sales this past Friday. Will this help revive some of the businesses that have been hurt most by COVID-19?

While some are confident that this will boost sales, others have their doubts. Though sales associates are required to minimize contact by placing orders directly in vehicles and wearing face coverings, many customers still see such interactions as risky and avoidable. Others do not have the disposable income to be spending on things like clothing and accessories right now.

Still, many view the move as a step in the right direction towards reconnecting with customers and resuming normalcy. Texas-based women’s luxury clothing boutique Julian Gold, which operates 4 stores across the state, recently redesigned their storefront windows to accommodate for the new “drive-by-shopping” experience. Now packed with racks of designer offerings, customers can window shop like never before.

Although online sales have helped some retailers make up for COVID-19 related losses, many small businesses were unprepared to suddenly move all their business online. Despite the growing popularity of e-commerce, brick-and-mortar sales still made up 88.6% of retail sales in 2019, making these businesses some of the hardest-hit by COVID-19.

One member of the task force Gov. Abbott has created to advise him on the gradual re-opening of businesses in Texas is Kendra Scott, whose Austin-based jewelry company operates more than 100 retail locations. Her Texas stores have begun participating in the new curbside shopping program.

Though it may be weeks or months before stores can begin fully re-opening, many have high hopes that “drive-by-shopping” will help relieve some Texas small businesses’ financial burdens.

Maggie Kelleher

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