As state governments begin to phase out stay-at-home orders, Bluemercury is getting ready to reopen its 171 stores.
Beginning Tuesday, a small portion of Bluemercury stores in Georgia, Texas, North Carolina and Ohio will reopen for curbside pickup only. By the end of May, 115 Bluemercury locations should be open for curbside service operating on limited hours, Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The plan is to slowly roll out curbside service to other states through the beginning of June, in the hopes of ultimately starting to open up brick-and-mortar stores by mid-June, said chief executive officer and cofounder Marla Malcolm Beck.
While Bluemercury’s e-commerce business has grown exponentially — 600 percent, said Beck — in the wake of coronavirus-induced lockdowns and closures of nonessential businesses, those sales don’t replace the lost revenue from in-store shoppers.
“We’re lucky that we don’t have mall locations, so we can go outside and put products directly in the trunk,” said Beck, who noted that socially distanced product consultations will be key to boosting sales as well. “If they want to try something new, they can touch or smell it curbside — or be shown swatches through the glass [of a car window.]”
The retailer’s fleet of store associates has been furloughed for some time, following Bluemercury’s decision to shutter its brick-and-mortar stores on March 18, and Beck is hopeful she can bring back those who want to work.
So Bluemercury is planning to reopen, slow and steady, and with the help of branded face shields that will be worn by all store associates. “The staff wanted to show that they’re still in a full face of makeup,” Beck said of the shields.
While Beck is gearing up to reopen stores, she acknowledged that the retail experience will undoubtedly be different, especially with no vaccine for COVID-19 in sight. The number of customers allowed in-store will be limited, and testing won’t be allowed. But the retailer is intent on keeping its physical locations open. “We’re happy with our store portfolio, and we still feel like we can be the neighborhood community store,” said Beck.
Some of the digital initiatives Bluemercury has launched in the wake of the pandemic may have real staying power. Beck said digital master classes with brand founders such as Trish McEvoy have drawn hundreds of clients to Zoom calls, something that can’t really be accomplished on a local level. “I envision that continuing,” she said, adding that Bluemercury has also experienced a “massive new client acquisition,” thanks to consumers doing more shopping online.
Recent speculation reported in WWD indicated that Bluemercury could be up for sale, as its owner Marcy’s Inc. works to secure a $5 billion financing package. The retailer was acquired by Macy’s Inc. in 2015. Beck said she couldn’t comment on “speculation.”
She does predict Bluemercury will be able to get to a point where its 2020 sales are even with last year’s. “I went through the recession in 2000-’01 and the 2007-’08 crisis,” said Beck. “You come out of each one different, but the beauty industry always evolves.”
She also noted an uptick in interest from consumers in clean beauty and wellness products, which she expects to heighten throughout the pandemic.