There's a lot of optimism in the air these days.
Covid-19 lockdown restrictions are being eased. More people are becoming vaccinated. Upbeat economic news is reported. Unemployment figures are improving. Restaurants are preparing for diners to return. And of course, given that we are now starting to compare sales results to the meltdowns of 2020, dramatic percentage growth is being reported and forecast for the balance of the year.
These positive and optimistic news reports all are very welcome. Retailers are eager to see customers return.
But what should retailers expect? To brace yourself for the myriad changes.
No matter where your store is located – whether in a mall, in a downtown business district, or a suburb, you undoubtedly have different neighbors.
In other words, everything has changed.
Which means it is absolutely essential, whether you have one store, 25 stores, or 100+ stores, for senior management to be in a store each day, seeing for yourself what is happening. "On the selling floor, from 11 to 4" must prevail.
Why? You must be able to respond more quickly to this new and challenging environment.
You will find yourself energized by all this, plus surprisingly informed by participating in the retail activity. What better way to "listen to the shopper"?
The best merchants are also leaders of their organization, and lead by example. There can be an enviable ripple effect among your staff that will serve you well. And wear a smile. It will brighten the selling floor!
Your customers – whether long-standing or new – will relish the results of it.
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.*
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."
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.
Each of us, our households, businesses and communities are in different stages of shutdown due to the coronavirus.
While we cannot speak to when this will end, we do have some ideas for dealing with the "fog of uncertainty" that hangs over us all.
The Retail Owners Institute® has developed a retail strategy for "Inventory Management Going Forward."
As we often do, it was recapped as an unassuming chart (see above) identifying the Five Stages of Merchandise Mix Management, from "Before COVID-19" to the "New Normal?"
Many times during 2020 we spoke of "disruption with a capital D!"
And now, more than a third of the way through 2021, that Disruption with a capital D shows no signs of abating. Instead, it just keeps morphing (not unlike the Covid strains that keep emerging....)
But the disruption that we see emerging is in the attitude, deportment, and psyche of Millennials, and the many people who are now acting like Millennials. This is showing up in the attitude of shoppers as well as employees.
We are entering an exceptionally exciting time for retailing.
Nationwide, the U.S. is experiencing an entrepreneurial surge not seen since the tech boom of the 1990s, said Kenan Fikri, research director for the Economic Innovation Group in Washington, D.C.
According to an analysis of Census data by EIG, "Through September, Americans have filed a record 1.4 million applications to start new businesses – the most through the third quarter of any year on record."*
Experts suggest it’s being fueled by rising household wealth and shifting life priorities, after millions of Americans were tossed from their jobs during the pandemic.
Still less than $1 a day! 👀