Burlington Stores is bringing back its fleet.
The off-price chain has started reopening stores this week in locations where local guidelines allow, with plans to phase in more stores in the weeks and months to come.
As stores come back, Burlington said it is taking numerous steps to assure that customers and associates stay comfortable — similar to other retailers such as Nordstrom, Macy’s and fellow off-pricer TJ Maxx.
Burlington has implemented numerous measures to allow for social distancing, including adding signage, creating one-way entrances and exits, widening checkout lanes and increasing space between customer and cashier at the registers. Further, the company says it is frequently cleaning high-touch areas and providing sanitization materials throughout its stores, including shopping cart wipes. Staff members will be screened before coming back to work, and they will be required to wear face coverings while in the store. Gloves will also be provided to associates.
“Knowing that the coronavirus pandemic has been a challenge for us all, we are approaching the re-opening process very carefully. We want to re-open stores methodically and thoughtfully, prioritizing the health and safety of our associates and customers. And we will take this same approach when we re-open our corporate facilities and distribution centers in the coming months,” wrote CEO Michael O’Sullivan in a letter to customers.
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On April 13, Burlington announced that it would temporarily lay off the majority of its store and distribution center workers while units remained closed because of the coronavirus. Additionally, the company said its CEO had forfeited his salary, while other members of the company’s executive leadership team would take 50% pay cuts. Further, members of the board of directors agreed to forgo cash compensation.
Off-price has been a rare bright spot in the brick-and-mortar retail space over the past several years, which executives and analysts have credited in part to the treasure hunt experience it provides shoppers — something that, unlike much of traditional retail, can’t be easily replicated online. The model allows the chains to be more flexible with inventory, and it leaves them less vulnerable to macroeconomic headwinds. However, off-pricers’ focus on brick-and-mortar — Burlington said in March that it would cut back on its online presence, which accounted for just about 0.5% of sales — had left them in a bind amid coronavirus-induced store closures, causing Fitch Ratings to downgrade Burlington last month from stable to negative.