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

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The Lingering Days of Summer

Since Labor Day in the US is the first Monday in September, this year it happens as late as possible. Labor Day will not be celebrated until next Monday, September 7. 

Most years, most folks would be perfectly happy to have August stretched out even longer. Ahh, those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer, right?

  • Well, we DO have the "crazy" part down pretty well. And "hazy" rings true too, as the fog of uncertainty persists.
  • And now, imagine it: a Zoom Thanksgiving... OMG!

And so, meanwhile, we regard Consumer Confidence as THE key indicator of consumer spending. Just last week, the Conference Board reported that Consumer confidence is at a six year low*. Ouch!

But, was that a surprise to retailers? Not really. Most retailers are well along in coping with these challenges. 

For instance, while this year's Back-to-School season was subdued, it did reward those retailers who thoughtfully anticipated how their customers would be adapting to 2020.

And those same trends will be playing out for Holiday 2020 as well. 

  • It is not rocket science to recognize that spending on discretionary items will continue to be down.
  • Replacement shopping will prevail.

One of the biggest changes in Holiday purchases will be the reduced spending on "experiences": tickets to concerts or sporting events; ski lift tickets; travel; restaurant gift certificates; etc. For the first time in many years, in 2020 there will be more focus on gift giving of actual items. 

  • The savvy retailers we know already are well down that path of focusing their Holiday buying on their basics, that is, what their best customers know them for, and look to them to provide. 
  • They also have explored some of the new online wholesale platforms that feature newer or smaller vendors and lower minimum orders to add a lesser-risk sprinkling of unique specialty items.
  • Meanwhile, these retailers have been improving their technology,streamlining new delivery services or curbside pickup, expanding their online payment systems, doing what they can to make it easier for their customers to buy from them.
  • And perhaps most important, finding new ways to reach out to and connect with their customers. 

We are reminded once again that there are Three Kinds of Retailers. 

  1. Those who MAKE things happen.
  2. Those who WATCH things happen.
  3. And those who say, "Umm, what happened?!"

And once again, it is the independent retailers who predominate in that first group.

Consumer confidence tumbles to new pandemic low after summer viral outbreak. Jeffrey Bartash, Market Watch. August 25, 2020.

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