Luxury retailers puzzle with offering personal services at a safe distance

A worker disinfects perfume bottles at Bloomingdale's flagship in New York. Photo: Jeenah Moon/Bloomberg

To survive covid-19, luxury retailers are being forced to master something they've always avoided: impersonal transactions.

The pandemic has driven high-end U.S. retailers far from their roots of engaging shoppers with stylized, personal-and, unfortunately, high-touch-service. Think makeup and jewelry counters, personal shoppers and in-house tailors. Now, with consumers staying away from public spaces, retailers like Bloomingdale's Inc. and Neiman Marcus Group Inc. are coming to terms with selling products via FaceTime and curbside pickup. But translating this into a lavish shopping experience sounds about as natural as turning a TV dinner into five-star dining...

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