Express Inc. expects to reopen roughly 300 outposts ahead of this month’s Memorial Day holiday.
The fashion apparel and accessories chain announced yesterday that it began reopening a few stores in Georgia and South Carolina last week. Now, it has taken a phased approach with “pace and staffing calibrated to mall traffic and consumer demand” and added that its plan will change or accelerate based on its learnings in markets where it reopens.
“This is a very fluid situation, and we will continue to operate in an agile and adaptive manner,” said CEO Tim Baxter. “The health and safety of our associates and customers is our priority as we reopen our stores.”
At its newly reopened locations, Express said it would not only enforce social distancing measures for workers and shoppers, but also thoroughly sanitize stores. It will also provide contactless customer service and payment options; offer enhanced “buy online, pick-up in store” services; and introduce curbside pickup at its Columbus, Ohio, and Chicago locations, with plans to expand to more stores.
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“We know that it will take time before consumer confidence and shopping activity reach pre-pandemic levels,” Baxter added, “but I am confident that the actions we have taken … put us in a strong position to achieve our long-term objectives.”
As previously announced, the company has accessed $165 million from its credit facility to improve its financial flexibility amid the COVID-19 health crisis. It has also cut expenses through inventory reductions and hiring freezes, as well as the furloughs of store associates as well as a number of corporate employees.
Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, Express had already announced the closures of about 100 outposts by 2022 — nine of which were already shuttered last year. The move was part of the retailer’s “fleet rationalization” plan as it continued to face broader challenges, including a decline in foot traffic and heavy competition from fast-fashion rivals as well as the rise in e-commerce.