As we introduced previously, the New Normal for retailers is already here. It is a new "retail clock."
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.
Meanwhile, other shopping is occurring mid-week, as people have the "found time" of not commuting. They also have discovered retailers closer to their homes (and possibly with parking right in front of the store.)
Have you noticed these trends in your retail operation?
As retailers compare daily sales to last year, the transactions and dollar volume on weekends may be down. But, what has happened to the weekdays?
Once again, it is a flexibility test. But that is nothing new for 2020, is it??
The New Normal is being defined by this flattening of the retail clock. The whole notion of what constitutes "retail time," retail seasons, and shopping days is changing.
And what has driven this? Yes, the customers. Getting what they want when they want it is a priority for today's shoppers.
Here's a post-pandemic strategy that should not be missed: higher margins!
Not the entire store, of course; you must be a merchant here.
But think about it: many shoppers have increased savings, reduced debt, or gotten their job back. Maybe all three.
And after months of being at home, and spending on home improvement and groceries, many shoppers have pent-up demand to spend on items they have had to postpone, like for themselves. Whether that would be in a restaurant or in a specialty store, shoppers are more willing and able to spend. (And some even feel entitled to spend.)
There are three "pandemics" assailing us at the moment: the coronavirus; the economic collapse; the protests of racial injustice. The three months plus of stay at home restrictions and the shutdowns, and the confluence of these three pandemics has been a heavy burden. And it shows no signs of going away anytime soon.
As the coronavirus continues to spread and surge (Apple re-closing 11 stores they had recently re-opened is a sobering reminder), the uncertainty and anxiety is only being prolonged.
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.*
Another real challenge of 2021 is rearing its head: Whatever you used to do in terms of managing your staff likely will not work this year.
In the aftermath of the pandemics, lockdowns, stimulus payments, low unemployment, and minimum wage increases, finding and keeping good employees is even more daunting for independent retailers.
"Buy low. Sell high. Collect early. Pay late."
That's the essence of retailing, right? But now, in the early summer of 2021, retailing more than ever demands a strong dose of good judgment.
It's shouted everywhere: "Look out! The inflation tsunami is coming!"
Yikes! It's buying season for many retailers, and the pressures to buy more, now, at these-low-prices-that-won't-last are mounting. And this is only the beginning.
Still less than $1 a day! 👀