The following is a lightly edited transcription from the May 14, 2020 live interview with Flora Delaney and Third Haus founders, Chris Walton and Anne Mezzenga. The full video interview is available here.
You brought up fitting rooms. Fascinating. OK. Let’s talk about Covid and fitting rooms. So everyone’s talking malls have said they are going to re-open. Different retailers have said they are going to re-open. I think Chico’s, my favorite retailer, was on the front end of that. Like how are they in general…what is the common best practices for how people are going to approach the fitting room experience, if at all?
Yeah, I think the whole idea of trying on your own stuff is what they are all trying to figure out. It is moving beyond the basics of running a fitting room. They are certainly putting limits on what goes in the fitting room. As they think about operating with Covid and fitting rooms, they are requiring a sales associate –you remember when they unlocked the fitting room? Well now they are coming back to the room and taking all the items out of the fitting room between customers.
And most of them right now, because it’s all they can do, are not farming those items back onto the sales floor until the next day so that they can have some time between customers trying them on. Many have to place those items in quarantine for the rest of the day and they will not be back on the sales floor until the next day.
Wow. And are they cleaning those rooms between every customer?
Yeah. Yep. And then they’re cleaning the rooms between people. And it is really a lot of work. It really makes you wonder about how many items you can bring in? And how much throughput will there be? How long will someone wait for a fitting room? Retailers wonder whether or not it makes sense to have fitting rooms. But not having them will have a chilling effect on sales.
Still, retailers are wondering what to do with their fitting rooms. Because do you want to put a shirt on over your head if someone just put over their head a little while ago? And when I don’t want an item are you just going to farm it back out into the sales floor? Is there going to have to be some kind of like quarantining of those apparel items? Or disinfecting? Or putting them under UV lamps? Suddenly people are thinking about all kinds of ideas and they all take up store space. And they are trying to figure out where they are going to put all this temporarily unsellable stuff.