Q&A: What’s in store for retailers during a pandemic holiday season?

Michigan State University
23-Sep-2020 1:10 PM EDT, by Michigan State University

Newswise — While autumn may have just begun, retailers are already hard at work to prepare for the holiday season – especially with the added complications of a global pandemic. The year has proven to be extremely challenging for retail businesses of all sizes, so many are hoping to make up for some of the losses that resulted from slower consumer spending and no in-person shopping.

The 2020 holiday season, much like the majority of the year, will be like none other before. But what does this mean for retailers? Simone Peinkofer, assistant professor of supply chain management at Michigan State University’s Eli Broad College of Business, discusses what holiday consumerism may look like for consumers and retailers alike.

Research shows Americans are still shopping and the retail industry overall is rebounding, though it's slower than one might hope. What kind of retailer casualties should we expect next?

We have seen multiple big-name retailers file for bankruptcy over the past few months and even before the pandemic began. So even before the pandemic, there was a multitude of retailers – like J.C. Penney, Pier 1, Lord & Taylor and Century 21 – that were already struggling, but the pandemic seems to have accelerated the faith of these retailers to file for bankruptcy.

As the pandemic continues, we are likely to see other retailers struggle too. I think with the shift of consumer shopping habits from in-store shopping to online shopping (which is expected to stay), retailers that have no or only a poor online presence will have a difficult time to keep their operations running and stay competitive in the current environment. In addition, small- and medium-sized retailers which might have received some kind of federal aid to help buffer the initial negative impact of the pandemic might also have to fear for their existence now – especially if their sales have not recovered yet.

The holidays are historically a time for large crowds to shop in-person. Any thoughts how this may change this year amid the pandemic?

While it’s difficult to say exactly how holiday shopping will change this year, it will be surely be different during these unprecedented times.

Consumer spending is down – which is not surprising considering the current unemployment rate in the U.S. – thus, the retailers already struggling find will themselves in a competitive environment. These retailers are likely to come up with strategies to attract customers and increase sales during their most important selling season of the year. For example, given that spending is down and retailers need to lure customers, it is likely that we will see holiday sales rolled out earlier than usual to increase sales.

Will sales/discount periods last longer to allow more spread out crowds? What about Black Friday – how will this change this year?

Multiple retailers already announced that they would be closed on Thanksgiving Day. With the increased demand for online shopping due to the pandemic, I think that we will see an increase in e-commerce also for Black Friday in comparison to last year since it provides customers with a safe and convenient shopping option.

One of the biggest issues I can see for retailers pertaining to Black Friday is how to keep the customers that do decide to go into the store safe. Retailers will need to develop new and enhanced protocols to keep their customers and employees safe.

On the topic of Black Friday, retailers in recent years have campaigned to close their locations on Thanksgiving and Black Friday. Will this have a more evident impact on sales this year than it might have in year's past? 

 The upcoming holiday season could really be another make or break point for a lot of retailers. As the pandemic has evolved, we’ve seen retailers that already had invested in omni-channel capabilities were better equipped to adopt their operations to the change in customer shopping habits from in-store to online shopping to serve their customers. We have also seen that the retailers that lacked such capabilities were – and are still – struggling.

In order to handle the additional surge of online orders, we are likely to see retailers hiring temporary workers – which is common for the retailing industry during the holiday season. 

Although there are retailers that appear to be well-equipped for the holiday season, we should not forget that industries are interconnected and one important industry partner for successful e-commerce, for example, is parcel providers or other last-mile logistic providers. However, these companies operate with a specific capacity limit (i.e. they can only transport and process a specific number of parcels per day) and, as we have seen especially at the beginning of the pandemic, the surge in e-commerce led to serious delivery issues. Indeed, parcel providers are still struggling to provide the same service as they did pre-pandemic.




Filters close

Showing results

1120 of 4156
access_time Embargo lifts in 2 days
Embargo will expire: 1-Dec-2020 11:00 AM EST Released to reporters: 30-Nov-2020 8:40 AM EST

A reporter's PressPass is required to access this story until the embargo expires on 1-Dec-2020 11:00 AM EST The Newswise PressPass gives verified journalists access to embargoed stories. Please log in to complete a presspass application. If you have not yet registered, please Register. When you fill out the registration form, please identify yourself as a reporter in order to advance to the presspass application form.

Newswise: COVID-19 Peer Hub combats vaccine avoidance amid pandemic
Released: 27-Nov-2020 8:05 AM EST
COVID-19 Peer Hub combats vaccine avoidance amid pandemic
University of South Australia

UniSA researchers are evaluating a new vaccination education initiative – the COVID-19 Peer Hub – to help immunisation and public health professionals to tackle the emerging dangers of vaccine hesitancy amid the pandemic.

Newswise: Long-Term Impacts of COVID-19: Your Mental Health
Released: 25-Nov-2020 2:15 PM EST
Long-Term Impacts of COVID-19: Your Mental Health
Cedars-Sinai

The COVID-19 pandemic has shaped more than half a year of our lives, canceling plans, upending livelihoods and causing feelings of grief, stress and anxiety. And Cedars-Sinai mental health experts say the pandemic could be shaping our mental health well into the future.

Released: 25-Nov-2020 12:45 PM EST
SARS-CoV-2 mutations do not appear to increase transmissibility
University College London

None of the mutations currently documented in the SARS-CoV-2 virus appear to increase its transmissibility in humans, according to a study led by UCL researchers.

Newswise: COVID-19 vaccine candidate tested preclinically at UAB nears first clinical test in people
Released: 25-Nov-2020 11:05 AM EST
COVID-19 vaccine candidate tested preclinically at UAB nears first clinical test in people
University of Alabama at Birmingham

Maryland-based Altimmune Inc., a clinical stage biopharmaceutical company, has submitted an Investigational New Drug, or IND, application to the United States Food and Drug Administration to commence a Phase 1 clinical study of its single-dose intranasal COVID-19 vaccine candidate, AdCOVID.

Released: 25-Nov-2020 11:05 AM EST
BIDMC researchers reveal how genetic variations are linked to COVID-19 disease severity
Beth Israel Lahey Health

New research BIDMC-led sheds light on the genetic risk factors that make individuals more or less susceptible to severe COVID-19.

Newswise: blog-pandemic-scenario-planning-lg-feature2.jpg
Released: 25-Nov-2020 11:05 AM EST
Pandemic Ups Game on Scenario Planning in The Arts
Wallace Foundation

Researcher/Author of new toolkit and report seeks to help arts and culture organizations add scenario planning to their strategic toolbox

Released: 25-Nov-2020 10:30 AM EST
Young people's anxiety levels doubled during first COVID-19 lockdown, says study
University of Bristol

The number of young people with anxiety doubled from 13 per cent to 24 per cent, during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown 1, according to new research from the University of Bristol.

Newswise: 249837_web.jpg
Released: 25-Nov-2020 10:20 AM EST
Tracking COVID-19 trends in hard-hit states
Louisiana State University

Currently, there are over 10 million confirmed cases and more than 240,000 casualties attributed to COVID-19 in the U.S.

Released: 25-Nov-2020 9:55 AM EST
More Health Systems Join National #MaskUp Campaign
Cleveland Clinic

Many more health systems are joining the national #MaskUp campaign encouraging Americans to stop the spread of COVID-19 by following safety guidelines. Over just a few days, another 19 health systems with hundreds of hospitals united with 100 health systems nationwide with hospitals numbering in the thousands. The public service campaign is critical to the health and well-being of all Americans. It is a plea from healthcare professionals everywhere: wear a mask and follow other precautions to save lives and help get our country back on its feet.


Showing results

1120 of 4156

close
1.12829