Preparations Begin the Reopening of Retail Stores in Canada: RCC

The Retail Council of Canada is working with an international consultancy group to develop a framework for the retail industry to prepare for the eventual reopening of stores across the country when the COVID-19 (coronavirus) crisis is finally over.

Diane Brisebois, President and CEO of the Retail Council of Canada, told Retail Insider the organization has engaged the Boston Consulting Group, a global management consulting firm, to assist in a recovery plan for the industry.

“We need to develop a Retail Recovery Playbook. We have set up special retailer task forces reflecting the different categories and sizes of retailers we represent across Canada that will work with RCC and the the Boston Consulting Group in the coming weeks and months,” said Brisebois.

“We are developing a framework, resources, and tools to assist retailers in preparing for the next stages of the recovery. We will also be reaching out to the different stakeholders who serve the retail community to better coordinate, collaborate, and harmonize approaches.”

“We are pro-actively reaching out to all levels of government to ensure that the recovery guidelines and regulations are as harmonized as possible and mirror the needs of the sector, their employees and customers and we are also looking at other countries such as Germany to integrate best practices into our plan.” 

Cadillac Fairview, a prominent landlord of some of the biggest malls in the country, said in a statement: “At Cadillac Fairview, we are committed to ensuring our employees, partners and communities stay safe and healthy as we plan our recovery.

“Like many in the industry, we are actively planning for reopening and what ‘open’ could look like. In addition, members of our team sit on various industry associations such as BOMA (Building Owners and Managers Association), who are sharing best practices based on early learnings from other countries.

CF TORONTO EATON CENTRE. PHOTO: CADILLAC FAIRVIEW

“Assessing this across our national portfolio, we don’t foresee this being a one size fits all approach and will of course, be acting in accordance with provincial and local public health guidelines. Our current plan is scenario based, with a focus on supporting our clients’ recovery and serving the communities where we operate. This includes partial openings, continued social distancing guidelines, and a phased return of the broader workforce, to name a few areas we are focused on.”

Brisebois said what happens next for the retail industry is critical and transformative. “It will be different. It will be challenging. It will require operational flexibility. It will also require different knowledge, different competencies, different standards and those are all important issues that retailers need to start addressing,” she said.

And they need to start putting these plans in place now.

“We’ve brought some of the smartest people around the virtual table in order to think about what we need to address and what we need to implement,,” said Brisebois.

Hand of woman holding paper bags enjoy with shopping in the mall.

“It’s not just store operation, store hours,  store design, staffing, supply chain or your ecommerce business. It’s also about  understanding how consumers will shop, what they will shop for, and how much they will be able to spend post COVID-19. 

“What are the new social norms? What does social distancing mean post COVID-19?  What will be expected of retailers and shopping malls during and after the recovery? There’s so much that needs to be thought through because this is something we’ve never really experienced and it’s something that is changing our world as we know it.”

The playbook will provide  guidance and resources for both small and larger retailers. RCC appreciates that an independent retailer with one or two locations may face different challenges and issues than regional or national chain.

“So we’re really going to dive deep to try to help all our retailers get back on their feet,” said Brisebois.

Article Author

Mario Toneguzzi
Mario Toneguzzi
Mario Toneguzzi, based in Calgary, has more than 40 years experience as a daily newspaper writer, columnist, and editor. He worked for 35 years at the Calgary Herald covering sports, crime, politics, health, faith, city and breaking news, and business. He now works on his own as a freelance writer and consultant in communications and media relations/training.

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