NRF’s annual report on the top 100 retailers in the US is based on sales for the most recently completed fiscal year. But for some companies, what transpired in 2019 might not hold much significance for 2020 and beyond. For others, the pandemic has accelerated their path.
“Those that were dominant before (the crisis) are seen to be dominant now,” said Tory Gundelach, senior vice president of retail insights at Kantar Consulting. “And the weak are getting weaker.”
Strong operational capabilities and flexibility could see some recovery for retailers for the long haul. These characteristics help define retailers that “can more easily tailor their response to the communities they serve.”
Another plus for returning to business as usual is past “experience operating in other emergencies.” Retailers that came through previous crises like the SARS outbreak in 2002-04, the H1N1 “swine” flu pandemic in 2009-10 or natural disasters such as hurricanes, floods or blizzards have policies and procedures already in place, Gundelach points out.
However, she cautioned that, “This is a really long burn. It’s a long road, a longer game, until 2021-22 and maybe beyond,” referring to the lingering effects of COVID-19 on the economy in general and retailing in particular.