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."
But of course, any sales forecast must start with the customer. We believe you should be prepared for a markedly-different "best customer" post-COVID-19.
To prepare for that, we urge you to think about your customers in terms of Lifestages. That is, people's spending is driven less by their personal demographics (age, gender, income, etc), and more by the Stage of Life of each household. Consider these:
Can Lifestages help explain your customer base?
Even more important, shouldn't Lifestages help streamline your recovery planning?
Think about it. Don't worry about being precise; we're talking Big Picture here. Maybe involve some of your key staff people too, to get their ideas. (Or even, check into the data available in your POS system. You might be surprised what's available there....)
Of these Lifestage groups, which two (maybe three) have historically been the most important customer groups for your stores?
Okay, so that's where you were Before COVID-19.
Now, consider how COVID-19 has impacted each of these Lifestage groups.
Given that, what can you assume about each of these groups and their readiness to resume buying from you?
Your "New Store Opening"
The COVID-19 pandemic is not forever; it will subside at some point.
Meanwhile, as we emerge from the Stay At Home restrictions, it will feel like you are opening a new store, with a different mix of customers.
Importantly, you still have lead time to make the appropriate tweaks and adjustments. Your stores and your merchandise must reflect which Lifestage group of customers will be ready, willing and able to shop your stores.
Like it or not, the pandemic has greatly affected everyone's priorities. Your perseverance and staying power will be tested. Keep the perspective; we wish you well.
* Why Re-Opening the US Economy Should Be About Reinventing It. Karen Webster, PYMNTS.com, April 27, 2020.
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.
A few years ago, during a planning session in our office, we drew a quick diagram on a whiteboard. It showed three shapes.
Out of all of the potential things we could do, which ones truly warrant our time, energy, and resources?
That picture keeps coming to mind as the COVID-19 shutdown orders on retailers of "non-essential" goods are starting to be lifted.
As the second quarter of the year begins, many of us are experiencing what that fellow in the cartoon is feeling. We are not where we expected to be (and maybe not even where we thought we were!)
Ahh yes, yet another flexibility test. The first quarter of 2022 was full of some major events, nationally and internationally, that disrupted many plans.
As you contemplate where you are now, compared to where you thought you were, and especially, where you intended to be, don't despair! Even more important, just like you do with the GPS system in your car, disregard"returning to the prescribed route."
Ahh yes, yet another flexibility test. The first quarter of 2023 was full of some major events, nationally and internationally, that disrupted many business plans.
As you contemplate where you are now with your retail operation, compared to where you intended to be, don't despair! Even more important, just like you do with the GPS system in your car, disregard "returning to the prescribed route."
This is retail, after all. Change is the name of the game!
Throughout the pandemic, millions of shoppers – including the older Baby Boomers – discovered the benefits of online shopping. Then, as brick-n-mortar retailers scrambled to survive, the increased availability of delivery, curbside pickup, BOPIS (Buy Online, Pickup In Store) and BORIS (Buy Online, Return In Store) was well received by a broad swath of consumers.
We see that this has brought heightened awareness of two different retail strategies: Convenience Retailing versus Destination Retailing.
And here's the deal: retailers now must choose either one or the other of those two strategies. You cannot have one foot on the dock and one foot in the boat. You DO have to decide!
The basic definition of retailing is "selling to the ultimate consumer."
As you know, HOW that is done, and in what location or format, continues to change and evolve.
So, we were intrigued by this recent post on the Shopify Retail Blog: The Future of Physical Retail in a Digital-First World.*
To us, the blog post was essentially a wide-ranging journey of discovery(and perhaps even some new-found respect for those "physical retailers".)
Still less than $1 a day! 👀