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Lululemon founder Chip Wilson: Retail will recover after COVID-19

Brian Sozzi
·Editor-at-Large
·2 min read

Lululemon (LULU) founder Chip Wilson is bullish on physical stores having a major role in retail in life beyond the COVID-19 pandemic.

“What’s going to happen [after the pandemic] is rents drop in half and a new model comes up. I think street retail will be as strong as ever. But because rents are half, stores will be an omni-channel in themselves. A brand store of what customers want: tactile, fit and e-commerce returns,” Wilson said on Yahoo Finance Live. Wilson’s take on the outlook for retail stores reflects the general view that people will want to congregate again, especially after being mostly quarantined in their homes for mostly all of 2020.

Wilson added, “I think people still really want to be together and really want to be close. I think we are talking what may be a year from now, I think we are going to forget all about this. I mean people in their 20s and 30s have to find each other, get married and date. They have to smell each other. Chemistry is involved. I think we are missing something, the most beautiful part of life and I don’t think digital will take over from that.”

To be sure though, digital shopping is having its moment in the sun this year as shoppers look to stay safe during the pandemic.

Curbside pickup spots are shown at the Mall of America for shoppers buying online or by phone from some mall stores Tuesday, May 5, 2020, in Bloomington, Minn. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)
Curbside pickup spots are shown at the Mall of America for shoppers buying online or by phone from some mall stores Tuesday, May 5, 2020, in Bloomington, Minn. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)

Big box retailers such as Walmart, Best Buy and Target have upped their digital services, including buy online and pick up in parking lots. The pandemic has put pressure on all three retailers to speed up new same-store delivery services.

Meanwhile, mall stores such as Lululemon have begun to offer curbside pick-up options of their own as a means to offset challenged physical store sales.

The efforts have paid off for most in retail in the form of impressive online sales growth and further steps toward profitable digital businesses.

Digital sales at Target and Walmart U.S. spiked 155% and 79%, respectively. in the third quarter. Lululemon hasn’t reported its third quarter results yet — but its second quarter direct-to-consumer sales skyrocketed 155%.

Brian Sozzi is an editor-at-large and anchor at Yahoo Finance. Follow Sozzi on Twitter @BrianSozzi and on LinkedIn.

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