Perspectives

From The Co-Founders

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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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From Main Street "Survivors", Vital Lessons for Urban Downtowns

The just-released "2021's Main Street Business Survivor Study" from the Pandenomics series conducted by the PYMNTS.com 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. 

Embraced Technology

  • "One-third of all Main Street Survivors now sell on digital platforms and marketplaces. Digital channels are the biggest driver of sales growth for the Main Street Survivors that use them."

 

Survivors Adjusted Product Mix, Not Prices

  • "Main Street Survivors have adapted their product offerings to meet consumer demand. Those that opted to compete by lowering their prices are at higher risk of going out of business."

 

More Part-Time Employees

  • "Main Street Survivors are taking steps to improve the efficiency of their operations and preserve cash by replacing full-time workers with temporary staff and renegotiating rent and vendor payments."

 

Few PPP Loans

  • "Nearly eight in 10 Main Street Survivors chose not to apply for Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans in the last three months. Many of the smallest Main Street SMBs that have not applied in the last three months said they laid off their employees instead."


Expecting Earlier Return to "Normal" Than the Consumers Do 

  • "Main Street Survivors are optimistic that consumers will return to the outside world in late fall 2021, even though consumers believe that it will take until February 2022 for things to get back to normal." 

 

That last one is a bit troubling, of course. Not surprising that these business survivors are very optimistic; they've got to be to survive, right? 

But, that time lag between when they will be geared up and ready for more shoppers and when the shoppers feel confident in visiting stores could prove problematic. Worth keeping an eye on.

  • Good reminder that instilling shopper confidence in the "safety" of shopping at your store must be a top priority. Perhaps this will herald the more widespread use of appointment shopping?
     
  • Plus, the reminder that a well-edited product mix prevails over low prices bodes well for savvy merchants.

Proof once again that independent retailers on Main Street can substantially pave the way for urban downtowns to realize a turnaround. Time for the City Cousins to listen up!

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"NEW DATA: Digital Lessons from Main Street's 2021 SMB Survivors." PYMTS.com,  PANDENOMICS, March 8, 2021.



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