In a “perfect environment” pre-pandemic world, the retail industry was already struggling. Big shifts in consumer shopping habits and expectations, and the drive to push to lowest dollar price point while still maintaining quality and customer service, decreased retailer and manufacturing margins. The “Rona-effect” has been an accelerant to an already stressed industry with international store closures. This impacts the manufacturers, vendors, landlords, logistics supply chain, and others who rely on retail sales, so the trickle to outlying industries and jobs is also affected.
Many manufacturers and retailers operate with little cash-on-hand due to inventory management and not much liquidity to manage a long-term shutdown. To pivot to the almost immediate brick and mortar shutdowns, many retailers and vendors had to dial-up their online sales presence. New strategies that can take some months to plan and execute had to be effectively launched within days in the hopes of capturing sales to “keep the lights on”. Many retailers and manufacturers are also sitting on significant inventory that will be dated as season(s) pass. This inventory ties up the much-needed cashflow.
We will emerge a “new normal” and need to expect that consumer spending and confidence in discretionary items will take some time. There are many unknowns that will be dependent on continued government stimulus and support, regional variations on the health impact of COVID on their local populations and, the ability for consumers to be allowed to resume activities that will promote spending. How does one plan in an environment with unknowns and lack of control?
As a small manufacturer of lifestyle products aimed at women and their families, we sell wholesale B2B and direct to consumers in B2C and we look forward to and plan for what the consumer will need when they have the freedom to awaken from their imposed, constricted world. We are in planning mode to predict what products people will want, crave, and desire and how they will fit into our brand vision. Then reverse engineer the sourcing and timing to meet expected and emerging trends, thereby supporting others in the industry across North America. By supporting all the players in the retail industry, this, in turn, will support employment and thereby putting cash into employees’ pockets so they in-turn can become confident consumers. Hopefully, an upward economic spiral will materialize sooner than later as we all work together to support each other.