Talking to VI in the segment "Conversas Diárias – Especial Covid-19" (Daily Talks – Special Covid-19), Rafael Pelote, Head of Market Intelligence at Sonae Sierra, shared that this situation also caught shopping centres by surprise: «no one could foresee this. We are trying to understand what may come out of this, but it is far too soon to advance with comprehensive evaluations or detailed scenarios on the pandemic’s economic impact».
On shopping behaviours and shopping centres’ attendance, he mentioned that «if two or three months ago we had well-defined segments, we now know that there will appear new dimensions, which will create new formats and new segments, including safety, socialisation and non-socialisation». And herein resides the greatest learning challenge.
On the other hand, if the economy’s digitisation «is not something new» for Sonae Sierra, the fact is that «the path towards digitisation was now clearly accelerated with this situation, through the omnichannel everyone’s talking about». Rafael Pelote believes that «shopping centres must be a part of that and will have to improve, contributing to solutions, especially when it comes to connecting the physical and the digital spaces».
He is sure that «Sonae Sierra had had the capacity to rapidly develop know how to meet the needs of the clients. That positions us as an organization which is well prepared to support our clients».
The experience will remain central
Rafael Pelote considers that shopping centres will continue to focus on consumer experience: «right now, experience means, above all, the need for security, sanitary concerns are very significant at the moment».
For now, Sonae Sierra will install alcohol dispensers in several of its shopping centres’ areas and will guarantee the reinforcement of its cleaning teams. «All ventilation and air conditioning systems’ routines will be reinforced, as well as surveillance, especially in terms of accesses to the shopping centres and in terms of wearing masks as well. We know that it is not comfortable, but it is fundamental in this situation», he added.
The circulation flows will be conditioned within shopping centres, «guaranteeing entry and exit areas, so as to avoid gatherings and make the flow more fluid, promoting social distancing». Parking lot capacity will also be limited to 1/3.
Shopkeeper’s support continues
«Sonae Sierra is committed to supporting shopkeepers in reopening their businesses and in complying with all directives», guaranteed Rafael Pelote.
«This has been a constant concern since the beginning. Right at the start of the confinement period, we created, together with Dott, an online Marketplace for our shopkeepers which has had a very positive impact, in particular on small businesses», he explained.