When Saks Fifth Avenue reopens its 10-story flagship store in New York City on Wednesday (June 24), customers will be greeted by 100 hand sanitizer stations and ultraviolet handrail cleaners on its 22 escalators, among other precautions.
“To set the tone in creating a safe and healthy environment for our customers, we knew we would have to exceed the minimum requirements,” Saks President Marc Metrick told The Wall Street Journal. “Feeling safe is as important to luxury as it ever will be.”
Many of the steps, including reserving elevators for older and vulnerable patrons, exceed New York state and city rules, such as requiring shoppers to wear masks.
In mid-March, when Saks closed its Fifth Avenue location, Hudson’s Bay Co. (HBC), the Canadian retail business group that owns Saks, organized a task force to strategize how to reopen, the WSJ reported. By Wednesday, all 40 Saks stores will have reopened.
Earlier this year, HBC went private, the Financial Post reported. Shareholders voted overwhelmingly to approve privatization of the firm following a contentious, months-long takeover battle. The $2 billion take-private transaction, which was led by HBC Executive Chairman Richard Baker, was approved by more than 98 percent of shareholders.
New York City has been at the center of COVID-19, with 17,591 deaths and more than 213,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Saks is not alone in trying to figure out ways to get back to selling. Customers of Bergdorf Goodman will need an appointment when it opens its Fifth Avenue location on Wednesday (June 24). The luxury department store is offering free delivery to the Hamptons.
Bergdorf is owned by Neiman Marcus Group, which filed for bankruptcy during the pandemic.
Last week, PYMNTS reported that Neiman Marcus received court approval to get debtor-in-possession financing. The retailer said that $250 million is available now, and a further $150 million will be available as needed after Sept. 4.
Metrick told the Journal that he won’t lose sleep if competitors on Fifth Avenue disappear. “Having brands open their own stores around us hasn’t been my favorite thing,” he said. “So if they want to close some stores, that’s fine with me.”