Q: My store, like many others, has had to close during this pandemic, with no idea when I can reopen. What should I be doing, other than panicking?
Steve Pruitt: Retailers are understandably in crisis right now, as most stores have temporarily closed, and one out of three U.S. consumers are being told to stay home by their local governments.
Here are a few things you can do now:
-Look to see if your state has emergency small business loan programs to help you during this time. We expect a Federal government program to come online soon, but in the meantime, your state may be able to help.
-Ask for rent relief from your landlord. Many are willing to work with retailers during these times.
-Start thinking about what you need to do when you can reopen.
We know there’s a lot of on-order inventory that has been sidelined. At least in the men’s market, you can sell merchandise forward much easier than in women’s. You’re going to need a plan to sell any excess inventory when you reopen. We expect pent-up demand, but consumers need to feel that the situation is under control before they are willing to let go of their dollars.
After this crisis, we will probably have to settle into a new normal. What will it look like? For example, with so many people working from home chances are some companies will realize that they don’t need the office overhead and will move to a work-from-home model indefinitely. Could this mean a longer trend toward more casual clothing going forward?
We realize that it’s hard to think about what’s ahead when you’re in the middle of a crisis. But planning ahead can help you feel more in control of the situation, which is what many retailers need right now.
There are no easy answers, but what we do know is that this will eventually pass and we will be working on resources to help you.
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