Perspectives

From The Co-Founders

rss

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

COVID-19 thumbs/OsTrifecta.png

You may be one of the many retail owners who share our vision of why to own your own business: “Making money. Having fun. Doing good.”  

You see, we believe that Owners do not have to choose just one goal for defining "success" in their business. Goals do not have to be mutually exclusive; they can converge. Just like in a Venn diagram.

Here's a fun exercise. Make your own Venn diagram for your own business. Start now to make that convergence come to life.  

COVID-19 thumbs/VUCA.png

Every day, there are all too many headlines of things outside our control. 

  • The war in Ukraine. 
  • The global energy crisis.Inflation. 
  • Rising interest rates. 
  • The falling stock market. 
  • Wildfires. 
  • Droughts. 
  • Supply chain disruptions. 
  • Rising costs. 
  • Crime rates. 
  • Social injustices. 
  • The latest coronavirus variant.
  • And...And...And...

The drumbeat of news about these events is relentless. And wearing. 

While retailers are notably resiliant and optimistic, there IS a limit to how much uncertainty one can continue to take.

Then we discovered that there is a name for all this: VUCA.

COVID-19 thumbs/NewsHeadlines.png

"Retail is a mirror of society."

Yes, Daylight Savings began a couple weeks ago. But it's not just the time on the clocks that changed; the times themselves have substantially changed. 

Followers of The ROI has heard us assert many times that "Retail is a mirror of society." As we reflect on the first quarter of 2022, we are struck by how much has changed in just those three months. And retailers must adapt – yes, again! – to this rapidly changing environment.

Think about it. Consider the assumptions you made just a few months ago, in late December and early January about 2022. 

COVID-19 thumbs/Qmarx.jpg

Have you noticed? That persisting Plague of Uncertainty that keeps hanging around?

  • The troubling issues in Ukraine and the potential repercussions.
  • Inflation now includes an even greater hike in oil and gasoline prices because of the Ukraine situation.
  • Unresolved supply chain issues, particularly impacting smaller businesses with less clout.
  • Employee unrest, union organizing, the "Great Resignation." 
  • Stock market declines, which seem to foster even more talk of unrest and uncertainty.
  • Not to mention the extended Farewell Tour of Covid and The Variants. 

And amidst all this relentless uncertainty, you still have a business to run, employees to motivate, customers to satisfy, vendors to deal with, creditors to pay, etc, etc.  

Here are some ideas on how to approach that.

COVID-19 thumbs/PA030087.jpeg

See the forest, not just the trees

Now that we've put a wrap on 2021, and before we really dive into 2022, it's time to catch your breath and reflect on where we are after 2021. 

Perhaps like us you believe that fundamental and enduring changes have occurred; no one can operate on "auto-pilot" anymore. All of us have to learn new processes, and form new habits. What's it called? Oh yes; "embracing change." Lots of it. 

That's why it is a very opportune time, particularly for owners, to have a very active Q&A session with themselves. 

checklist.png

Just when it seems we can get to the "New Normal" or the "Next Normal," another disruption comes along. 

"There still is so much uncertainty" is the lament, often accompanied by a sigh of weariness. Or resignation. Trying to plan for the Holiday season, or looking ahead to 2022, can seem especially daunting right now.

Occasionally, all of our businesses need to hit "pause;" this is one of those times. 

Recognize that thanks to the pandemics, most everything about running your business has changed. Your merchandise mix; your customers; your staff; your competitors; your suppliers; your landlord; your technology; etcetera. Everything!

  • With all those changes, how could going forward have much resemblance to however you used to do business?
  • And as is always true in retail, the name of the game is adjusting!

COVID-19 thumbs/Lookers.001.png

Think about it. Shoppers, employees, people everywhere today have, in the back of their minds, one defining thought. 

No matter where they work, where they shop, where they live, where they travel, where they eat, they always wonder "How safe will I be?"

MasterChart3v2.png

As we follow economic indicators that particularly affect retailers, our primary focus always is consumer confidence. And the reports coming out this week give us pause. 

  • "The Consumer Sentiment Index fell by 13.5% from July, to a level that was just below the April 2020 low of 71.8," notes Richard Curtin, chief economist for the University of Michigan's Surveys of Consumers.*
     
  • "The extraordinary surge in negative economic assessments reflects an emotional response, mainly from dashed hopes that the pandemic would soon end."

The highly transmissible Delta variant and the vaccine hesitancy of many have changed the momentum. Covid fatigue is back. This affects consumers. 

And with it, more challenges for retailers. Decisions and policies may be needed regarding vaccinations, both for your staff and your shoppers. Meanwhile, consumers are likely taking another pause. Will schools reopen? Will offices reopen? 

So, what's a retailer to do? What you always do: deal with it!