What does June 30 mean for retail?

May 27, 2021
Written by Renée Sunde, President & CEO

After 460 days retailers will finally be allowed to open their doors allowing full capacity for shoppers in brick-n-mortar stores.

Retail recovery has looked very different based on sector. General merchandise, grocery, home improvement and electronics, many with strong online platforms did very well over the past year. Many non-grocery, small businesses and mall retailers however have struggled needing PPP, EIDYL loans and state grants to keep afloat.

As the vaccine injects hope, more retailers especially those categorized during the pandemic as non-essentials, are anxiously awaiting shoppers’ return to their stores.

For many large format retailers, the capacity limits have not impacted them as keenly as small retailers. When shoppers consider a wait to get into a store, they often choose more convenient options.

Although optimism is growing as June 30 draws near, there are real challenges facing the industry as we move into our post-pandemic reality. Retailers will have to answer the question – how will customers engage with retail post-pandemic?

We saw a major shift in 2020 with consumers spending $861 billion online. Online share of total retail sales hit 21.3% in 2020 up from 15% in 2019 as shoppers looked for safe options. This forced many retailers to get creative and use the months of shutdown to develop online platforms and to put in place options like curbside and BOPIS.

Some small retailers have moved to online marketplaces and this trend will likely continue as we recover. But even with the growth of e-commerce, 80% of retail sales still take place in brick-n-mortar stores.

The experiential element of retail that so many of us know and love isn’t going away, but retail is no longer defined by only one channel. The Digital and Physical have merged to become the new baseline for the industry, and retailers must learn to navigate an omnichannel environment if they want to stay competitive in the marketplace

Although recovery will be challenging, retail’s future is bright and there will be more blue skies ahead.