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March 27, 2021, 9:36 a.m. EDT

‘Plexiglass will stay up for a while’: Shoppers remain anxious about COVID but head back to stores

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Tonya Garcia

Target Corp. /zigman2/quotes/207799045/composite TGT -0.32% will be hanging on to the safety measures implemented during the pandemic for the foreseeable future, Chief Executive Brian Cornell told reporters recently.

“The focus on safety will be with consumers for years to come,” he said. “We will continue to lean into ensuring a safe, contact-free environment. The plexiglass will stay up for a while, and we will continue to encourage social distancing.”

Still, Target is preparing for the day when shoppers will return to some of their pre-pandemic behaviors, like lingering in stores to see what’s new and exciting, rather than popping in simply to pick up an order placed online.

“We’re preparing for a guest that will take more time to shop the whole store. We expect to see many of the impulse items continue to grow as guests take more time,” he said.

As people start “getting out of yoga pants,” and begin shopping for parties, events and luggage they need for the increased amount of time spent outside of the home, Target says the renewed activity “will add vibrancy to certain parts of the assortment.”

The COVID-19 pandemic isn’t over yet, but one year in, vaccines are rolling out , travel plans are being made and, for some, it’s party time.

See: It’s a ‘question of time’ before another virus jumps from animal to human, says co-inventor of flu treatment Tamiflu. Preventative therapies are needed.

Also: ‘I don’t think these are college kids’: Miami mayor warns people against descending on Florida

For most others, it’s still a time to be cautious even as the dim light at the end of the pandemic shines a little brighter.

According to the American Psychological Association’s “Stress in America” report that looks at the pandemic one year later, 57% of Black Americans say they “feeluneasy about adjusting to in-person interaction once the pandemic ends.” Fifty-one percent of Asian Americans, 50% Hispanics and 47% white Americans feel the same way.

And nearly half of Gen Z adults (46%) say their mental health has worsened, followed by Gen Xers (33%), millennials (31%), boomers (28%) and older adults (9%).

Despite the heightened feelings of stress, Stephen Rogers, executive director of the Deloitte Insights Consumer Industry Center, says it’s an evolving situation.

Read: Target to spend $4 billion annually over the next several years to build on ‘record breaking’ 2020

“It has taken a year of psychic scarring to get to this point,” he told MarketWatch. “But stories of people gathering, congregating in larger sizes – once that starts happening, I think consumer confidence about getting out and about will continue to grow.”

Deloitte data released on Monday shows that anxiety levels are starting to decline, with 64% of people in the U.S. feeling safe to go to stores, up from 51% in late December.

“In the U.S., nearly as many surveyed consumers are worried about contracting COVID-19 as they are about their finances (51% and 48% respectively),” the Deloitte report said.

And more people are making plans to spend money on clothes and dining out, even if one in three say they will wait until after the pandemic to take a vacation.

/zigman2/quotes/207799045/composite
US : U.S.: NYSE
$ 214.03
-0.68 -0.32%
Volume: 3.09M
May 10, 2021 4:02p
P/E Ratio
24.76
Dividend Yield
1.27%
Market Cap
$106.83 billion
Rev. per Employee
$228,756
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