The retail crisis triggered by the lockdown also hit Harrods hard, which last week announced the dismissal of 14% of its staff. To ease the crowds of their spaces during the sales season, as well as to fund the inventory accumulated during quarantine, the retailer has therefore decided to launch Harrods Outlet, the first initiative of its kind for the UK luxury department store that opened last Friday in the Westfield area of London, and will be followed by the concept store H Beauty which will have a location at Lakeside Mall in Essex in September and another in Milton Keynes in February.
The new Harrods Outlet occupies two floors and has been designed with the rules of social distancing in mind.
The space will be large and well-lit, easy to sanitize and with exhibitors spaced apart, to accommodate over 120,000 different products selected from a portfolio of one hundred fashion brands. Any dress that will be worn in the dressing rooms and not purchased will besanitized and stored in isolation for 48 hours before returning to be displayed. In addition, only 365 customers will be allowed into the store at a time, which will be counted by the same computer system that monitors attendance at Harrods headquarters. On the first floor you will find the beauty and perfumery sectors, along with bags and accessories, footwear and sunglasses. Upstairs are the men’s and women’s ready-to-wear collections.
Harrods’ move is unprecedented and comes at a critical time for the department store world that has seen famous names such as Macy’s, Sears, Nordstrom and JCPenney declare multimillion-dollar losses and lay off hundreds, if not thousands, of workers. As Harrods has shown, differentiation and even aggressive expansion in sectors such as outlets could be a lifeline for luxury malls, attracting new groups of customers and providing ad hoc proposals, such as venues dedicated to beauty products only. The new project will also save the jobs of Harrods employees, which will be funneled to the new venues. Among the retailer’s new projects is also The Residence, a villa-shop located in Shanghai, designed for the personal shopping experiences of high-end customers.