Q: How will the rising Coronavirus cases due to the Delta variant affect our business?
Steve Pruitt: This is top of mind for many of our merchants right now. Of course, no one knows for sure, but we do know that we are facing a few pressures: rising inflation, the expiration of some virus-related economic subsidies, and uncertainty around Delta that is affecting the stock market and consumer confidence.
So, what do we do about this? We’ve been telling all of our merchants for months to tightly control their receipt plans, so if demand drops off suddenly you can tap the brakes on your inventory flow and not be left with a bunch of goods you may not be able to sell. We introduced a method during the start of the pandemic that we call “Hold and Release”. When retailers make their orders they ask their vendors to hold them until they are ready to receive them, coinciding with demand. This is opposed to landing a majority of goods upfront.
And now, micromanaging your receipt plan is more important than ever, especially as supply chains loosen up and vendors start shipping goods more quickly. At Blacks, this is easy to do because we have month-to-date updates to our Portal online planning system.
But no matter how you do your planning, keeping an eye on demand changes week-to-week, and adjusting your receipt plan accordingly, is crucial for navigating the months ahead.
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