Nordstrom Closing 16 Stores as it Preps for Reopening

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Nordstrom Closing 16 Stores as it Preps for Reopening

By Lisa Johnston - 05/06/2020

Nordstrom may be readying to open its stores, but that doesn’t mean it’s giving up contactless curbside services.

The retailer shared its plans to resume selling in its stores after shutting its doors in March to help slow the spread of COVID-19. As expected, it’s making a number of a changes in order to promote social distancing and better protect associates and customers.

As part of this, it’s also permanently closing 16 full-line stores.

“The past several months have been unlike anything we've ever experienced, and we're working hard to evolve so we can continue to show up in a meaningful way for you, our employees and communities,” Pete and Erik Nordstrom wrote on the company’s website. “Part of that has meant serving you in new ways, whether that's online or through some of our contactless curbside services like order pickup and returns. We want to continue to bring you the service and convenience you need, even if it may look a little different than it has in the past.”

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Stores will re-open in phases — once they’re permitted by state and local governments, and once they’re equipped with the new safety measures.

“We want to be sure the approach we're taking to reopen our stores is thoughtful, and that we're creating a store environment that's safe for everyone,” they wrote.

Among the changes, Nordstrom will limit the number of customers and associates in its stores; ramp up its cleaning and sanitation; provide face masks for both employees and customers; and alter its hours of operations.

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It’s also conducting employee health screenings and modifying fitting rooms. High-touch services and customer events will be paused or adapted; its Anniversary Sale, for example, will move from July into August.

Merchandise that has been tried on or returned will be kept off the sales floor for a period of time, and designated “store ambassadors” will stand at store entrances to answer questions.

As was the case with many retailers during the onset of the health crisis, Nordstrom quickly ramped up its omnichannel capabilities, including its store-fulfillment options. It brought store fulfillment to its Nordstrom Rack stores in mid-April, enabling store fulfillment throughout the company’s entire fleet of stores.

The company also recently launched its dedicated e-commerce site for its customers in Canada, with all online sales fulfilled from the region’s six full-line stores.

Nordstrom operates 378 stores in 40 states, including Nordstrom Rack, Jeffrey boutiques, Trunk Club clubhouses, Nordstrom Local service hubs and two clearance stores.

More than half of Nordstrom.com orders are currently fulfilled from its full-line stores, while 25% of Nordstromrack.com and HauteLook.com orders are fulfilled by Nordstrom Rack stores.

There’s no doubt this may be the strangest back to school season on record. As class supply lists hit parents’ inboxes, many are still debating if they will even send their children into the classroom this fall. However, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to threaten the normalcy of purchasing paper and pencils, there’s still time for retailers to ramp up their back to school promotions.

Even if COVID-19 was eradicated tomorrow, the long-term supply chain impacts would persist for at least many months still. With that, retailers must adapt existing supply chain systems and processes to minimize pandemic impacts for both the short and long-term.

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