Even though luxury retail stores in New York can now reopen for curbside pickups as of Monday, many will remain closed and boarded up amid lingering safety concerns and social unrest.
New York City eased into Phase 1 of reopening on Monday, 100 days after the first coronavirus case was diagnosed and 78 days after Gov. Andrew Cuomo's stay-at-home orders went into effect.
While many businesses and consumers are eager to return to some semblance of normalcy, some luxury retail stores have decided to wait.
“We do not have any New York City openings planned across the brands as of yet,” a spokesperson for Tapestry Inc., which owns Coach, Kate Spade, and Stuart Weitzman, told Penta in an email. The company did not further explain their decision.
The company has reopened about 460 out of its 700 stores across North America, following the successful strategy it deployed in Asia, most offering curbside and in-store pickup. About 115 stores are fully open to the public with safety measures in place, the company said.
Tiffany & Co., which operates a major flagship off Fifth Avenue, has a tentative plan to reopen on June 11, the company told Bloomberg. Tiffany & Co. did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Upscale department store Bloomingdale’s didn’t open its two locations in Manhattan— one in the Upper East Side and one in the downtown SoHo area, according to its web site. Macy’s, which, like Bloomingdale’s, is owned by Federated Department Stores, opened its flagship store in Herald Square with limited services.
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Many of the luxury stores on Fifth Avenue, Madison Avenue, and in the downtown SoHo area, have been boarded up with plywood and razor wire on windows as a precaution against vandalization.
“Most luxe retail in New York City is still reeling from the double whammy of Covid-19 shutdown and the looting,” says Kate Newlin, a business management consultant of her eponymous firm in New York, whose clients include Channel and Bloomingdale's. “Couple that with the worry of staff about going into work where fear lingers on.”
Meanwhile, the Retail, Wholesale, and Department Store Union (RWDSU) has issued a statement, warning members of potential danger of going back to work.
“We are deeply troubled by the behavior of the police toward protestors since the tragic death of George Floyd,” Stuart Appelbaum, president of the union, said. “New York City’s retail workforce is incredibly diverse, and as we return to work, we need to know that all workers will be safe as they come to and from work.”
Further, the luxury stores’ decision to delay reopening might also be a direct response to consumers’ sentiments, Newlin says.
“High-end customers lack the demonstrable need to go get a new ‘it’ bag until the shopping light is really lit,” she says, and nowadays, they can “order pretty much everything online.”