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.
This particular study has been tracking the impact of Covid-19 on consumer attitudes and behaviors. It is conducted and analyzed monthly, allowing the tracking of trends over time.
Looks like your shoppers want assurance that Covid will not be a gift-with-purchase this year.
It appears that the need to keep enforcing and even merchandising your Covid safety protocols has not declined.
And who has the most interest in feeling safe? The majority of people, those who already have taken steps to protect themselves, the folks who have gotten vaccinated.
This study compares the attitudes and concerns of vaccinated consumers to those who will not get a vaccine. For instance:
Meanwhile, whether vaxxed or unvaxxed, these consumers are thinking about the economy. The rising prices on "essential goods and services" are taking their toll.
In our view, the increased costs at the grocery store and gas station will only heighten the anxiety of Holiday shoppers.
Shoppers are determined to have this year's Holiday season compensate for a very muted 2020 Holiday. And they are aware of merchandise shortages, increased shipping costs, and longer delivery times.
These shoppers are being very pro-active. In other words, the 2021 Holiday shopping season likely is already underway!
You can do all that, right??
* COVID-19 Consumer Sentiment & Impact on Behavior. Numerator.
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.
Throughout the pandemics, many independent retailers successfully shed their "technology laggards" label, as they pivoted to embrace an array of digital tools.
Yet going forward, it is well to keep in mind what really matters to the customers. And it may not be more technology.
A recent survey* of more than 2,000 customers provides some interesting insights as to who shops where, why, when and how. It especially highlighted the differences between "large stores" and "smaller stores" (or as we view them, "specialty stores.")
Hmm. This suggests to us that shoppers essentially are treating large stores the same way they treat the internet:
Retailers are notable for their optimism and their resilience.
And the last couple of years have provided ample opportunities to showcase their ability to bounce back.
But now, it's 2022. Time for those customers to pick up the slack. And here's an idea for helping them get started. Without costing a penny in advertising!
Print up some "bag stuffers" (you know, conspicuous notes) inviting them to come back in November.
The COVID-19 pandemic has certainly gained the respect of the general public.
Surveys continue to show that, while folks are eager to be able to resume moving about, they do not expect to resume their pre-pandemic discretionary shopping and dining activities anytime soon. They are awaiting effective treatments or, even better, a vaccine.
Main Street restauranteurs and retailers understand that, according to survey results reported April 27.* In fact, these owners anticipate it could take another eight months – that is, most of the year – for consumer demand to reach the so-called "New Normal."
We know that retail startups are up, but alas, so too are retail failures; even higher than historical norms.
Yes, the headwinds for retailers right now are real, and plenty difficult.
However, it turns out that the underlying causes of failures do not change; like cockroaches, they just endure!
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.
Still less than $1 a day! 👀