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Shoppers Can’t Wait to Hit Your Stores—and Here’s When They Want Them Re-Opened

Though COVID-19 is racking up record, single-day death tolls this week, a new survey shows shoppers are chomping at the bit to bust out of isolation and jumpstart the consumer economy.

Chalk it up to cabin fever or “quarantine crazy,” but 60 percent of consumers believe stores—many of which have been shuttered since mid-March—should be open for business by the end of May, according to new First Insight data released Thursday.

Men and millennials, however, are even more hopeful that brick and mortar will be back in action earlier, with 39 percent apiece crossing their fingers for end-of-April or early-May unveilings. Those who reside in contagion hotspots like Detroit, Chicago, New Orleans, Los Angeles and San Francisco are also more likely to root for brick and mortar’s resurgence even earlier, as 43 percent similarly want to see their local commercial strips bustling sooner rather than later.

“It’s clear that people are getting antsy and ready to get back to some form of normalcy, including shopping in-store,” said Greg Petro, CEO of the product decision platform.

Despite consumer enthusiasm to once again set foot in their favorite retail haunts, concern surrounding the coronavirus outbreak has climbed steadily in recent weeks, in tandem with increasingly alarming headlines, government interventions and stay-at-home orders aimed at curbing the historic pandemic. Nearly 1.5 million coronavirus infections have been confirmed worldwide, according to data Thursday from Johns Hopkins University, which tallied the global death toll as approaching 92,000.

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Eighty-seven percent of those questioned for First Insight’s most recent April 3 survey expressed anxieties over the pandemic’s impact, up from 71 percent halfway through March, when the virus hijacked the U.S. economy in short order.

The growing number of consumers troubled by the coronavirus crisis “points to the true reality of the situation,” Petro said, adding, “We may still have a way to go.”

There’s been much talk, and little clarity, around what the state of the consumer psyche will be when the pandemic eventually fades into memory, and whether people pent up for weeks will be primed to purchase new goods. For now, though, data gathered in a CGS survey published Thursday shows consumers are still scooping up fashion online. Nearly half of shoppers (49 percent) are turning to e-commerce to purchase clothing for everyday use, a figure that rises to almost 60 percent among those who are employed full time.

The generationally inclusive survey of more than 500 consumers offers some clues as to what retailers can expect when their store doors swing open after the health emergency is under control, though skyrocketing furloughs and jobless claims could put a damper on the state of consumer confidence.

In preparation for in-store shopping’s inevitable return, Petro urged brands and retailers to “continue planning by ensuring they have the right product and price when the time comes, even if it’s just being offered online for now.”

Striking a “delicate balance” with the right goods at the right cost can be difficult, “but those who are connected closest with their customers will be best aligned should they be given the green light to reopen their doors,” he added.