From The Co-Founders


Tips, Tactics & Strategic Insights and Commentary
from The ROI Co-Founders, Pat Johnson and Dick Outcalt
Outcalt & Johnson: Retail Strategists LLC; Retail Turnaround Experts


Boy, are we ever impressed.

We've known for years that those who are following and/or involved with The Retail Owners Institute® are resolute, hungry, and determined. But wow! The challenges of the last year have brought out the very best in many of you.

We've heard back some of the most resourceful survival stores that we've ever heard. Here are just a few examples:


It's a new year. And now, another new month. How about a new sense of beginning, a fresh start?

Alas, the coronavirus pandemic continues to prove Dr. Anthony Fauci right:"The virus is in charge."

As you have noticed, all around us there's delay. From Major League Baseball contemplating a month delay, schools and universities very slowly resuming in-person classes, or a decidedly different lineup and focus of Super Bowl advertisers, we have no choice but to continue to be patient. Isn't that the pits?

As Daphne Howard reported*, "Footfall patterns show that getting back to normal requires more than flipping the "open" sign.



There's something in the air. And no, it is not smoke! 

We believe there is a profound feeling of "springtime."

We know; spring officially is still two months away. But that springtime state of mind IS here. And we all should embrace the opportunities it may bring us.

What's the source of this attitude change?


As we reflect on this year and the multiple and still-ongoing effects of the pandemic, we are inspired once again by the resilience and perseverance of independent retailers. 

Then we saw a comment about dealing with adversity that seems particularly relevant to retailers. 

Remember Cher, the entertainer? (And conservationist and philanthropist.) She was asked by Christine Amanpour about how she dealt with adversity and setbacks (like bankruptcy) throughout her career.


This Holiday season is bringing three big waves for retailers, in rapid succession. And each one requires a strikingly different management response. 

Wave #1 - the High Margin Wave - has begun in earnest, and will continue through Christmas Eve.

Faced with the shipping delays (and surcharges), customers have turned to brick-and-mortar stores. The savvy retailers are ready for them.


Amidst the fog of uncertainty of 2020, retailers have experienced a breath-taking acceleration of time, as an array of new-to-retailers technologies have now become almost commonplace. 

2020 has put an end to the days of retailers being technology laggards. We applaud the resilience and adaptability of retailers who did embrace change and especially technology during 2020. Retailers definitely rose to the occasion!

And yet, again, the virus is surging. Even as promising announcements are made about vaccines, the threat that COVID-19 continues to pose to the survival of local businesses is ominous, and substantial.

We agree! This is so not fair!

But, who is up to that challenge? Independent retailers who are merchants supreme.


As we introduced previously, the New Normal for retailers is already here. It is a new "retail clock." 

  • "As the global efforts to "flatten the curve" of the coronavirus pandemic continue, there is another curve that is being flattened. That would be the seasonality of retail sales. 

    "And this may prove to be what really defines the New Normal for retailers. 

    "The customary peaks of retail spending have been flattened."

Of course, it is not just retailers who have been affected; the shoppers also have been adapting. But whereas retailers think in terms of seasons (weeks and months), the shoppers are adjusting their patterns at the daily and weekly level.


"Retailing dead?" Hardly!

“Retailing” is selling to the ultimate consumer. That is not going away, in spite of the current perception. 

What IS (appropriately!) endangered? Deadly retail real estate! 
Conventional, impersonal, and boring brick-n-mortar stores are deadly.