Retailers gain optimism as customers come back

Mar 25, 2021
|
Written by Washington Retail
|

There’s new optimism on two fronts now that retailers statewide are operating at 50% capacity.

Not only can stores welcome more customers one year into the pandemic under the state’s Phase 3 recovery plan. The nation’s three producers of coronavirus vaccines are expected to triple production this month, according to the Wall Street Journal. Washington Retail followed the news by sending a letter to Governor Inslee and Secretary of Health Umair Shah requesting expanded vaccine eligibility from grocery workers only to all frontline retail workers statewide by the end of this month.

In the letter, WR CEO Renée Sunde noted that strong acceptance of vaccinations by our diverse retail workforce could assist in leading the way during the next crucial months, further adjusting safety restrictions and speeding economic recovery.

In Seattle, where mandated government shutdowns have contributed to the permanent closure of 260 downtown businesses the past year, retailers and shoppers are optimistic that stores can welcome more customers.

“The increased operational capacity allows us to increase staffing levels and to invite more customers into our stores to enjoy shopping for that special piece of jewelry for themselves or a loved one,” said Theresa Treat, Vice President, People Services for Ben Bridge Jewelers. “Less waiting outside in line puts the joy back into making a purchase and increasing business.”

Treat added that vaccinated employees are more comfortable at work.

“They are telling us that their stress levels are starting to decrease. They feel more in control of what happens to them. This is all good news not only for our company, Ben Bridge Jeweler, but the retail industry in general,” she said.

Blake Garfield of Bedrooms and More in Seattle hopes the faster pace of vaccinations will encourage more shoppers to visit.

“Vaccination is good for business,” he said. “It means more potential buyers are getting comfortable visiting brick and mortar stores. I’m excited to be eligible for my vaccine in the coming weeks or months.”

For months during the yearlong pandemic response, vaccines have been the key toward protecting health and enabling economic recovery.

The news there is promising.

The U.S. monthly output for the three authorized vaccines is expected to reach 132 million doses for March, nearly triple the 48 million in February, according to estimates by analysts at Evercore ISI.

“We really should expect over the course of the next month or so a very substantial increase in supply” in the U.S., said Eric Toner, senior scholar with the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security. Early bottlenecks sourcing materials “have been fixed.”

Sources include the Wall Street Journal