Can you imagine the world without retail stores and malls?

Can you imagine the world without retail stores and malls?

Yes, malls, retail stores, and restaurants are open now, but for how long? The effect of the coronavirus lockdown came on top of retail’s existing problems. We were advised to stay home, avoid shops and restaurants and many stores closed permanently.

This has a significant impact on jobs. Jobs that seem rooted in routine servicing customers with items they need. Many people form part of the retailing network, and so it forms part of most children’s households. They would always remember that their mom or dad had worked there.

If retailers close, people lose opportunities, not just their jobs. They lose the chance at economic freedom and to support their families. Yes, there are opportunities in other roles and industries, which would possibly pay better, but this is also a part-time job for many. A stay-at-home parent wanting to provide a financial cushion or teenagers seeing it as their first job, especially those without funding for university or college.

People have different reasons for wanting to work in retail – finding to make their own way. Many brands are promoting their robust online shopping experience to shield against the closure of malls and to accommodate shoppers who are afraid to shop in-store. Covid-19 will forever change the way we work – remotely, but not everyone wants to work this way. They want to interact with people every day and be able to mentally and emotionally separate work from home.

With the rise in infections, we’re unsure what the government’s further rules and regulations will be. Will we move back to a previous level where stores and restaurants’ operations get discontinued? Will those stores and restaurants survive a second round? Will the owners, employees, and their families pull through?

Malls with parking lots, escalators, and air conditioning were built around department stores, but when more stores are disappearing at a rapid clip, other tenants could abandon the malls at the same time as chain stores are also shrinking. Food stores, pharmacies, and supermarkets have seen plenty of business, but the costs of social distancing have considerably depressed their profits. They also lose when having to close the store for one or two days for deep cleaning.

This affects shoppers too. You won’t be able to shop at your local store just a short distance from your home. Where will you go for an active retail therapy session? Yes, most items will be available online, but the mall experience and atmosphere will be missing. Other entertainment such as the movies and indoor go-karting will not be there. We won’t be able to see new things by wandering through the stores, and we won’t be able to bump into someone we haven’t seen in ages.

This is our only chance, every individual South African, to comply with the measurements set in place to help flatten the curve and reduce transmission. So that everyone in retail (in-store, call centres, and warehouses) and indirect organisations can find a way to give themselves options for the future.

Thank you to everyone cooperating in wearing their face masks correctly, sanitising their hands at sanitising stations, washing their hands with soap and water, and keeping a safe social distance. We’re all in it together, and we can help save our malls, stores, and our people.

Happy safe shopping, Sandton!