Coronavirus has changed the way we live, work, shop and interact—and most of us are wondering how life will ever return to normal.
Much of today’s news is grim. Just a quick browse of the headlines offers terrifying glimpses of the future. May 2020 could bring bankruptcies and permanent closures by retail and service businesses, while others will limp along for a few more months.
And on the other hand, some businesses are faring quite well during coronavirus—even thriving:
- Fast Casual shares that Wingstop saw sales rise during the first quarter of 2020, despite being forced to suspend dining room service in mid-March.
- U.S. News & World Report shares that consumer staples and value-price club stores tend to do better during recessions, which bodes well for companies like Procter & Gamble, Costco and BJ’s Wholesale Club.
- And stock research firms everywhere are touting certain stocks as “must buys,” including retailers that offer curbside delivery. Think Sprouts Farmers Market, Kroger Co., and Walmart Inc.
Riding the wave while keeping an eye on the future
If there’s one thing history has taught those of us in the business of retail/real estate market research (or adjacent businesses), it is that you must always keep an eye on the future. On the surface, it is good to be in the grocery business right now, but there are things to keep in mind:
- Limited hours – Even when things return to “normal,” grocers and all retail businesses will likely be required to reduce their hours to avoid allowing too many people to congregate and break the rules of social distance.
- Limited shoppers – Already, some businesses that are being allowed to open up again are keeping their hours short to prevent exposure and keep people safe from COVID-19.
- Limited supplies…even with demand – As you have likely experienced when on the hunt for toilet paper, the rules of supply and demand are out the window these days with certain products. Panic buyers have wiped out shelves of paper towels and household cleaners, and businesses are responding by limiting guests on the number of items they can buy.
The point we’re making here is that the grocery business is a poignant example of today’s volatile landscape. Things change daily. The way retailers, grocers, service businesses and other customer-facing businesses operate is going to be different in a few months than it was in January 2020 and April 2020.
It’s essential to plan for an uncertain future
The COVID-19 crisis has taught us many valuable lessons, but if there’s a universal takeaway for all types of businesses, it is that the future is uncertain…and yet, you need to plan for it.
None of us know exactly what’s coming, but whatever business you’re in, you’re going to need to adapt. If you are a restaurant chain that didn’t have takeout dialed in, it’s probably time for you to plan for that in the future. If you’re a fast-casual chain that has historically gotten a lot of takeout orders, is there an opportunity to add delivery or a drive-through to your business? If you’ve always been a sit-down restaurant, can you start to expand your options for the post-COVID-19 world?
And whatever type of business you are, your omni-channel strategy has never been more important. Before COVID-19, retailers that dominated bricks and mortar struggled as shoppers gravitated to online shopping. Post-COVID-19, this will likely become more problematic as companies work frantically to get their curbside pickup and other methods tuned up.
Opportunities are coming
In the midst of the chaos, it’s also important to keep your eyes out for opportunities. What are you learning from the coronavirus outbreak that you’ll apply to your business going forward? The new norm of socialization might create opportunities—think about how you can change your business to adapt to your customers’ changing needs and preferences for interacting with others and staying apart.
You will need to make sure you pay attention to the data, of course. The data you’ve been relying upon to date is going to look very different very soon. You certainly can’t overlook the science but you’ll also need to improve your “art” to make up for that science’s shortcomings. You can do that with a tool like SiteSeer site selection/retail analytics software.
SiteSeer can help in several ways:
- With data to fill vacancies – Vacancies are coming, and if you’re a broker or developer, you’ll want to be prepared with the right tools to fill them.
- To prepare for the future with a solid market and business intelligence tool – If you’re experiencing a slowdown right now, why not prepare for the future? Learn to use a robust toolset that can help you evaluate new sites, assess the viability of your store base, understand in-store customer behavior, and understand how your customers’ needs and wants are changing.
- To better understand your stores, customers, and markets to make better business decisions in the future – Yes, the future is uncertain. That’s all the more reason you need SiteSeer to help you evaluate different situations that you might face in the near and distant future (or not). If you’re focused on tightening up your store portfolio, evaluating new sites for later this year, or want to rerun your shopper data and customer analytics models, this is the time to do so.
Let’s talk about your needs for real estate site selection, store planning, understanding customers and markets, retail sales forecasting, and more. Call us today at 866-524-2804. Or better yet, schedule a demo now and plan for the future.