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.
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.
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.
Are we alone, or have you also noticed it?
Everything seems to be kind of stalled right now. Maybe that's for good reason. Or maybe this period of malaise is a great opportunity for the bold. Whatever, it seems weird.
Look at these examples:
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."
Still less than $1 a day! 👀