reconstructing retail

Reconstructing Retail

Defying Yesterday's Logic

The Parker Avery Group hosted our third Reconstructing Retail webinar last Thursday, “Beginning the Journey: Emerge from COVID-19.” Here, we recap key messages, as well as answer questions from the webinar attendees.

Before talking about the future, we thought it made sense to spend a couple of minutes putting things in perspective. Back in January, as we do at the start of every year, many of us are used to looking ahead and determining priorities and focus for the coming year.

Today, our context and perspective as far as where we are and what we are facing are completely different from just three months ago. Yet, we could look at these priorities and firmly believe they all still apply, and they do. But it’s these “plus:”

  • Health and safety of customers and associates
  • Intense cleaning
  • Managing social distancing
  • Intense focus on how to manage in what will clearly be a new environment

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Along with many of you, Parker Avery attended NRF in January with colleagues and business partners. We were certainly channeling our inner prophet when we chose the quote for our 2020 NRF recap: “The greatest danger in times of turbulence is not the turbulence—it is to act with yesterday’s logic.” (Peter Drucker). How fitting this is today, especially for our Reconstructing Retail discussions. Yesterday’s logic, and yesterday’s retail models, simply won’t help us be successful in the future we are facing. The context is different, and our strategies must change and adapt.

In the last week, many retailers announced opening plans and Simon Property Group announced the opening of dozens of malls and shopping centers. Macy’s announced it would open 68 stores this week and expects to have all 775 stores open within 6 weeks. Once some retailers start to open, while everyone will err on the side of health and safety, they’ll also want their share of the consumer wallet. It’s not unlike when the first retailers chose to open on Thanksgiving Day, rather than waiting until early Friday morning. Many didn’t necessarily want to, yet they felt the pressure.

To help guide these efforts, several industry groups or companies have contributed examples of checklists or blueprints for re-opening of retail.  Kroger and NRF offered very good checklists, while Cathy Hotka also shared her company’s compilation of store opening suggestions last week.  These are all good starting points and offer good steps for store leaders.

We framed up the emergence from COVID-19 a