How will retail respond to the delta variant?

Aug 5, 2021
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Written by Washington Retail
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Just as Washington opened fully, the delta variant is causing concern that virus mutations could impact our progress across the state and nation.

While vaccinations still seem to be the most promising way to stop the spread and end the pandemic according to the CDC, it’s disconcerting that mask recommendations have returned in many higher-risk counties across the state.

Even though this news is alarming, a repeat of the lockdowns of last year which hit the industry so hard seems unlikely, according to a recent article published in the Retail Dive.

The article talks about the three fundamental ways that the delta variant is affecting retailers:

  1. Masks – According to the CDC, mask recommendations now include both vaccinated and unvaccinated people, a challenging proposition for stores and retail workers.

“Public health and safety is always the number one priority for retailers large and small. To be sure, that means retailers will continue to follow the guidance of the CDC and other public health experts to protect our associates, their families, and customers. We want every business to remain open, we want to keep people employed, and we want to ensure that consumers have access to the goods and services they expect and need.” NRF

  1. Consumer confidence and the economy – According to federal reserve chairman Jerome Powell, a variant serge won’t likely do what the pandemic did last year, but it could slow down the economy.

How will it impact school districts returning to in-person classes or many of our corporate employers who wait to come back to the office? Will concerns on the delta variant slow in-store traffic? These and other factors should be closely watched in the coming months.

  1. Supply chain challenges continue as retailers have had to respond to demand and the impacts of manufacturing and shipping on their inventory. Supply chain bottlenecks and shortages have also led to inflation, which could impact future consumer spending.

On July 29, President Biden announced a series of new actions and incentives to get more Americans vaccinated. In response to the President’s announcement, several retailers have announced that they will now require employees to be vaccinated.