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 just-released "2021's Main Street Business Survivor Study" from the Pandenomics series conducted by the folks* focuses on the "Main Street Survivors:" those small to medium sized businesses "that have weathered the pandemic's fallout." 

Vital lessons.

What have these "survivors" done differently than the rest of SMB businesses? Here are the major findings of their study. We think that you'll see many of the survival steps you have taken, or be prompted to adopt some others. 

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Have you noticed? From the growing Shopify online businesses, to an array of pop-up shops, mobile "fashion trucks," or newly-repurposed spaces in neighborhood shopping districts, there are many new retail operations emerging. They're actually springing up!

Plus, there are the established retailers who, having shed many legacy features, are re-imagining their place in the ("Coming soon!") post-pandemic environment.  

As we noted last week, retailing is being affected by different patterns of seasonality. The old timing patterns for ordering, seasons, and events no longer apply. New "Rhythms of Retail" must be established by all retailers.

So it was with great interest that we read a blog post about Pop-Up Retail: Not Just for Start-Ups.*  It featured results from a recent study out of the UK suggesting that "the pop-up retail sector is growing at 12.3% per year. And the U.S. pop-up industry has grown to approximately $10 billion in sales."

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"Keep your head up. 2021 is going to be great!"

That message is emblazoned – in sunshine colors - in the windows of Nordstrom's flagship store in downtown Seattle. And yes, on a drizzly January day in Seattle, it was a welcome sight this morning. A nice pep talk for us all.

And a fitting message to follow our reflections on the year we just experienced. 

Since March 2 of 2020, our From The Co-Founders commentary has been focused on the pandemics. Revisiting those was quite the "year in review" experience.*

  • From March 2: "This is no time to overreact, nor to be dismissive. Look for the facts!"
  • And, "Our focus is on those impacts that demand the most judgment from owners."


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.


Maybe you heard it. 

We heard this weekend a resounding sigh of relief from around the world. The election has ended. 

For all of us, this passage invites fresh optimism, a fresh resilience, and a fresh commitment to the important things in life.

As retailers, one of those important things is your operation. 

The situation suggests that now is the perfect time to reexamine your competitive edge.


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.


"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.