Stopped for more than a month, the São Paulo retail trade of non-essential products tries to turn things around to mitigate the loss of revenue that has shrunk more than 60% since the suspension of activities due to the pandemic. In addition to online selling, which is the most immediate option to continue billing, stores are beginning to put into practice other ways of selling that prevent crowding, the biggest risk of contagion from covid-19. These ways include withdrawing the product from the store or mall parking lot without leaving the car (drive-thru) to door-to-door sales, as was the case in the old days of retail.

TelhanorteJá, the flagship of neighborhood stores for building materials by the French group Saint-Gobain, for example, started selling last week via mobile trucks. The idea is that, when requested, these vehicles go to building condominiums to sell around 700 basic items for emergency home repairs. “The goal is to serve customers who are not familiar with the internet”, says Julian Ohta, general director of the network. He says that the items will be sold at cost and that the intention is to provide service and retain customer loyalty.

Shopping Cidade São Paulo has been selling through drive thru for two weeks.

Photo: Rovena Rosa / Agência Brasil / Estadão

A person from the condominium contacts the network that sends a truck to the place, where a kind of fair is set up, taking care not to form agglomerations. The seller and the driver wear gloves and masks to avoid contagion. As people are isolated and more time indoors, the tendency is that the need for repairs increases, predicts the executive. Today there are two trucks in operation: one in São Paulo (SP) and another in Porto Alegre (RS). Two more vehicles are being prepared.

At the beginning of the confinement, between March 20 and April 1, stores in the sector were prohibited from opening. Afterwards, construction material resellers were allowed to operate, but with reduced hours and with a smaller number of consumers in stores.

Another way to avoid contact and reduce the risk of contagion of the disease is the drive-thru operation, in which people can buy without getting out of their car or buy over the internet and drive in the parking lot just to pick up. This strategy has been adopted mainly by shopping malls and homecenters as well.

It has been two weeks since the Shopping Cidade São Paulogroup CCP, started selling through drive thru. At the beginning there were about ten stores, today there are already more than 30. “The situation we are experiencing today we never imagined”, says the mall manager, Roberta Naveiro. She explains that this is a way to meet the specific demands of consumers and reduce the delivery bottleneck, which accumulates many deliveries. The storekeeper offers a direct sales channel with the customer and he passes through the parking lot at the agreed time to pick up the product, without get out of the car.

Today, in addition to Shopping Cidade São Paulo, plus four malls in the group (Tietê Plaza, Grand Plaza, Shopping D and Shopping Cerrado) already use this system. Morumbi Shopping, belonging to the Multiplan Group, also adopted the sale through drive-thru, as announced in its instagram account.

With the proximity of Mother’s Day, celebrated this year on May 10 and with the certainty that non-essential trade will still be behind closed doors, the drive-thru is an alternative to be able to bill on the second best date for retail after Christmas.

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