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Fashion retailers reopen stores with caution


In what could become the new normal for retailers, apparel and footwear retailers, which witnessed a business slump since India imposed strict lockdown measures on 25 March, opened a few stores this week with limited staff and contactless payment options.

Footwear retailer Bata India Ltd opened 180 of its over 1,400 stores. It has created an instruction manual in 11 regional languages for its 6,000-odd employees, trained store staff, and done away with paper bills. Its India chief executive officer, Sandeep Kataria said, “We are encouraging customers to try shoes themselves, make contact-less payments and insist on an e-invoice. Our contact centre is keeping customers informed about which stores have re-opened.”. It has opened stores in Bengaluru, Kochi, Mangaluru, Puducherry, Thiruvananthapuram, Guwahati, among others.

Meanwhile, fashion retailer Benetton started operations in over a dozen of its over 350 stores in Goa, Panchkula and Imphal. However, its stores in key markets, such as Delhi, Mumbai, Pune, remained shut. Benetton is encouraging cashless payments, online invoices at stores, and running stores with limited staff, while ensuring clothes that are tried on are kept away for 24-48 hours before they are displayed back on racks.