In the U.S., Luxury Brands Board Up the Store

In Shanghai, day-to-day life for a lot of luxurious retailers has began — slowly — returning to regular. After virtually two months of stringent lockdowns enforced by Chinese authorities hoping to comprise the unfold of the new coronavirus, retailers and eating places are cautiously reopening for enterprise, alongside the first sunny rays of spring.

In Europe, nevertheless, the place hundreds of thousands of residents have been residing below nationwide shutdowns for greater than per week, shops in well-known retail locations have bolted their doorways. Grates and window shades have been drawn at flagship luxurious shops on the Place Vendôme in Paris and Via Montenapoleone in Milan.

In London, shops like Harrods and Selfridges, and Bond Street boutiques like Burberry and Chopard, have cleared jewels and inventory from plain sight. Little surprise, provided that for the subsequent three weeks a minimum of not a single buyer shall be strolling by means of the doorways.

But in New York, the place the cobbled streets of SoHo have shuddered to a standstill as state measures to gradual the unfold of the virus have taken maintain, quite a lot of elegant luxurious boutiques, together with Fendi, Celine and Chanel, didn’t simply shutter storefronts this week; that they had them boarded up with huge sheets of plywood, as if in anticipation of riots and civil disobedience, much like how they react to European protests.

And fears have now spread beyond New York, with boarded up storefronts appearing on 14th Street in Washington and Rodeo Drive in Los Angeles, Union Square in San Francisco and the Magnificent Mile in Chicago, where Christian Louboutin, Dolce & Gabbana and Giorgio Armani have all walled off their storefronts. Social media users are posting images of once-buzzing retail arteries newly silent and potentially bracing for civil unrest.

Mark Dicus, the executive director of the SoHo Broadway Initiative business improvement district, said he had reached out to SoHo landlords and retailers last week urging them to consider alternatives to boarding up windows. Owners worried about securing their businesses, he said, should first consider hiring security firms or keeping interior lights on.

“Boarding up your storefront makes it so that people on the street can’t see inside,” he said. “That might be more appealing to those looking for break in opportunities.” Mr. Dicus added that the approach could add to residents’ anxieties at an already stressful time.

“We want to maintain a sense of normalcy and make sure our neighborhoods are safe,” he said. “We feel there are ways to take care of that without resorting to drastic measures like boarding up storefronts.”

And to, perhaps, ready them for the future.

After all, in Shanghai this week, following weeks when apartment blocks became fortresses and shopping districts wastelands, many luxury businesses started to welcome customers back with open arms (and in some cases, with thermometers and hand sanitizer at the doors). Malls and shops have started to reopen, with people eager to get out after being confined to their homes.

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