It's a new year. And now, another new month. How about a new sense of beginning, a fresh start?
Alas, the coronavirus pandemic continues to prove Dr. Anthony Fauci right:"The virus is in charge."
As you have noticed, all around us there's delay. From Major League Baseball contemplating a month delay, schools and universities very slowly resuming in-person classes, or a decidedly different lineup and focus of Super Bowl advertisers, we have no choice but to continue to be patient. Isn't that the pits?
As Daphne Howard reported*, "Footfall patterns show that getting back to normal requires more than flipping the "open" sign.
Well, reduced store traffic is not news to anyone. But here's another perspective from Jason Goldberg in Forbes**.
That's quite the dramatic shift, isn't it? Customers are decidedly more purposeful in their store visits.
What a great opportunity to emphasize how your stores offer solutions; the internet offers only transactions.
Meanwhile, we must wait.
Only when the vaccine becomes more widely available, and we gain more understanding of the variant strains (and as the weather improves!), only then will the shoppers begin to re-emerge.
Until that time? Ahh, patience, patience, patience.
* Stores are open, but the pandemic keeps shoppers away. Daphne Howard, Retail Dive, January 29, 2021.
** Retail Was Remarkably Resilient in 2020, But Has Been Changed Forever. Jason Goldberg, Forbes, 1/16/2021.
The savvy retailers know that now is the time to be putting the finishing touches on – wait for it – being ready for December 26!
Yes, this unique time period between December 26 and New Year's Day is a tremendous make-or-break opportunity. Indeed, many retailers find they net more from this time than any earlier stretch of 6-10 days!
First, the many opportunities to reduce expenses "back to normal". Less advertising cost. Less staff. Fewer hours.
For most retailers, especially this year, reducing inventory is priority #1. With talk of a 2023 recession still in the air, lingering inflation driving up costs, and rising interest rates, cash is definitely king this year.
Time to revisit your year-end strategies for meeting your targeted ending inventory on December 31. If you are like many retailers this year, with plenty of merchandise in your stores, you know the challenge: how best to turn that inventory into cash? Quickly! Especially without looking like a distressed merchant.
Here's one answer for how to do that. Focus on improving the productivity of each shopper who comes to your store. That is, increase the IPTs (Items Per Transaction.) Make it easier, more compelling and more fun for them to buy more items from you.
It has begun; the 4th quarter of the year. But sadly, Covid-19, the Delta variant, and now the Alpha variant will have huge influence.
Meanwhile, there is no shortage of opinions and predictions about the economy, whether from Wall Street, the Fed, Capitol Hill, or your buying group or retail trade association.
Amidst all this, we were intrigued by a report that could be of far more value to retailers: results of a monthly survey of consumer concerns.* After all, for retailers, the shopper matters much more than the pundits on the business pages.
Yes, we know. Owning a retail business these days is one flexibility test after another. And there are no one-size-fits-all solutions.
In the United States, one of the most widespread impacts of the virus is uncertainty. With no end in sight. It is the virus that is in charge. As the president of Alaska Airlines noted, "We don't know what the future looks like."*
But the fact remains, whomever is selling to the ultimate consumer has leverage. Might that be you?
As we approach April of 2021, the question for retailers is "Now what?" Having survived 2020, in many cases on guts and guile, we must now focus on how best to survive 2021 and beyond.
As having one foot on the dock and one foot in the boat, the future of retailers in that Red Zone is not a pretty picture.
Granted, there is much talk about the expectation that "convenience" will become a major factor for shoppers going forward. And we don't disagree.
Here's the deal: We see that this has brought heightened awareness of two different retail strategies: Convenience Retailing versus Destination Retailing.
If 2020 was the year of pandemic disruption and scramble-to-survive mode for retailers, 2021 may be the year of relentless Retail Is Detail reminders.
Many of you may well have benefitted from one or more rounds of PPP loans and their potential "forgiveness." Now comes the reminders that you must seek forgiveness. In writing. From the bank that loaned you the funds. And there are some time deadlines involved. Yikes.
Oh, and total forgiveness may not be forthcoming. It depends. (See below for these guides* and disclaimers from the SBA.)
Then there are the so-called "bookkeeping details" surrounding all this.
Still less than $1 a day! 👀