Alas, there is really no way to avoid discussing COVID-19, the coronavirus that began in China last month, and now continues to spread throughout the world.
No matter whether or when it is officially declared a "pandemic," the uncertainty and angst that it is generating have troubling implications for retailers.
And we are talking about much more than the supply chain implications or the global economy. (For discussions about that, go here on the National Retail Federation website to see some resources specifically for retailers.)
The tornado of media and social media commentary on the subject makes it all the more important to "Keep calm, and carry on."
This is no time to overreact, nor to be dismissive. Look for the facts!
Our focus is on those impacts that demand the most judgment from owners.
That is, what are the implications for the people involved with your stores: your employees and their families, and your customers?
Meanwhile, how has your local community been impacted?
If a major employer has had work slowdowns (or closures), this will affect the buying power of your shoppers over the next few weeks and months.
Begin now to make adjustments to your planned budget for the year. If employees have been on sick leave, or your store has had reduced hours and/or days of being closed, that is revenue that is unlikely to be recouped. It's time to revisit your expense budget, and start to make adjustments.
While you're at it, be sure to make some adjustments to your buying plan! This is the time to consider the supply chain implications.
Meanwhile, are there orders that should be cancelled? Remember, when customers are able to return, they will not be looking for winter merchandise!
These are just some of the demanding judgment calls. The key, as always, is using the lead time. The sooner you begin, the more choices you will have.
Gather as many facts as you can, and then, yes, apply your best judgment!
Let's assume your stores have been closed for weeks now.
We recognize how conscientious you are. So, after paying what you can to your employees (and yourself), the next most-worrisome dilemma is your rent.
As you likely have discovered, a common choice for many landlords is to offer to defer your payments. But that means taking on more debt, as those payments are only being postponed to a later point in time.
You need a better solution than that.
As your stores are able to re-open after the coronavirus shutdowns, how they look tells a powerful story. And for you, a great opportunity.
This is no time to try to go back to normal, back to business-as-usual. Nor to simply have all kinds of protective shields in your store. While necessary, how welcoming is that?
Instead, this actually IS a second chance to make a good first impression! Take full advantage!
This is, after all, The Retail OWNERS Institute. We long have specialized in alerting, coaxing, and applauding retail owners worldwide.
Today's message is a major heads-up.
Keeping pace with the relentless changes in retailing has never been easy. Retailers know that constant adjustments are demanded.
Then, the three pandemics of 2020 happened: COVID; the economic meltdown; the social unrest. And life changed modestly or enormously for almost everyone, including owners of retail businesses.
No, Not About People This Time
While we typically think of people as recipients of recognition – and we trust you already are doing that, right? – this is a different challenge.
Ready? Here we go! Of your merchandise, which products are Award Winners?!
Your results are likely to be consistent with these patterns.
We hear it over and over. "Good business citizenship" matters to shoppers. Might Labor Day weekend be a good time to start getting the word out about your citizenship contributions?
Customers vote with their feet, their wallets, and their hearts, and increasingly choose those retailers who "do the right thing", whether it's how they source product, hire and pay employees, reduce environmental impacts, etc.
There are things that independent retailers do day in and day out, without perhaps even realizing how special they are!
Most retailers we know are "aw shucks" type people. It's charming, but, especially in today's world, your leadership can be a competitive edge! So, why keep it a secret?
Still less than $1 a day! 👀