Since the shop reopened France last week, luxury fashion boutiques in the French capital have improved their security measures to create a changing, upscale experience.
In one of the first country in Europe to open up to consumers in such a way, luxury destinations are becoming self-conscious pioneers in creating a new shopping environment. The challenge is “to make people feel fascinated as much today as safe”, said Jennifer Cuvillier, head of style at the Le Bon Marché department store – no small challenge in the context of global luxury sales projected to down 50% this year, according to a recent report by Baines.
Shoppers are welcomed at Le Bon Marché by a fearsome army of masked and gloved staff – 150 to be exact, one for each visitor with maximum store capacity in these post-confinement days. A shop assistant personally accompanies visitors through a screen that is almost always protected by glass.
In the atmosphere that is nested between museum visits and dystopian science fiction films, they follow compulsory curated routes to avoid the possibility of physical contact. Till is protected by acrylic screens, like in Chanel on Rue Cambon.
The majority of stores disinfect and quarantine all items that have been touched for 48 to 72 hours. And, of course, the dressing room is cleaned after use. To overcome these rather daunting steps, the brand seems to focus on personalized and enhanced service offerings: luxury labels including Louis Vuitton and Christian Dior have begun offering private shopping sessions.
Despite efforts, a week after the door reopened, the initial rush seemed to have faded. While on May 11, crowds flocked to boutiques on Champs Élysées and Avenue Montaigne – rows of buyers who thirst for endless luxuries awaiting the opening of Louis Vuitton – the situation has changed radically: Chanel, Céline and Yves Saint Laurent are all queue-not a week later, and the boutiques are almost empty. Sales assistants at Galeries Lafayette Champs Élysées and Loewe both confirmed that the traffic dropped significantly.
“There was an initial penchant that didn’t last long,” said Rémy Faure, a hair dye. “One of my clients immediately left on the 11th to buy an electric blue Kelly bag at Hermès. But many people have begun to think more critically about the choices and needs of their lives during confinement. “
Serge Carreira, a fashion lecturer at the Paris The Institute of Political Studies, said: “In the absence of tourists, which constitutes the majority of luxury sales, empty boutiques.”
Shopping will not disappear, he said, but that is changing: “Those who shop will do it differently, more decisively; it will not be hot when the decision is made but something thought. “
Exiting the Galeries Lafayettes Champs Élysées, Samantha, 34, and Elena, 33, showed that the decline in shopping was caused by the fact that there was no place to show off new clothes. “À quoi bon?“(What’s the point?) Samantha grumbled. Cinemas, cinemas, restaurants, cafes and bars were closed.” The only place to visit is the shop, “Elena added, for whom lèche-vitrine (literally “licking windows”, as French call searches) is one of the few outdoor activities available in the city today.
According to Carreira, delays can be caused by habits gained in confinement: “Shopping addicts shop as much as they can during confinement, many people have adopted the habit and, it can be assumed, there is no point in getting out. to a city that still feels like a ghost. “
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