How Will The Coronavirus Pandemic Affect The Retail Industry?

In recent weeks, retailers across the U.S. have been forced to take action in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many retailers have been forced to close their doors to keep the public safe and stop the spread of the coronavirus.

According to Morgan Stanley analysts, total retail traffic fell by 9.1% in March. And this number was not offset by the shift to e-commerce.

3 Ways COVID-19 is Impacting Retail

Nearly all businesses in the U.S. have been affected by the coronavirus pandemic. But some are in serious decline, while others are thriving under a skyrocketing demand. Here are three ways the coronavirus pandemic is impacting the retail industry as a whole:

1. The demand for delivery will only continue to grow

Spending your Sunday afternoon at the grocery store already seems like a thing of the past, doesn’t it? Grocery delivery has quickly become a desirable option, and local grocery stores are feeling the strain of this increased demand.

Target, Amazon, and Wal-Mart have all seen delivery orders take off in the previous weeks. These companies are quickly trying to hire more workers so they can add additional slots for delivery and pickup. Instacart is looking to hire an additional 300,000 full-service shoppers.

This presents obvious challenges for many retailers, but it also offers a unique opportunity. Retail businesses can begin shifting their business model to account for the new demand for e-commerce options.

2. The popularity of contactless checkouts will grow

Retailers like Target had already implemented contactless checkout options. You can expect to see more retailers adopting this trend in the next year.

There are a variety of ways to implement contactless checkouts. One way is by using a checkout station where customers scan their own items, pay, and then leave. Another option is to have customers scan their items as they shop, like in an Amazon-Go store.

3. Contactless payments will become the norm

In many ways, a cashless society was already inevitable, but the global pandemic is only speeding up this trend. Contactless payments offer a safer way for customers to pay, so they don’t have to interact with a sales associate.

Many businesses will begin offering retail apps to provide customers as an easier payment option. And digital wallets can provide a good alternative to swiping a credit card.

For businesses in the entertainment industry, using kiosks is an excellent way to prioritize customer safety. Kiosks allow customers to pay for food and purchases without having to stand in line or interact with employees.

Foot Traffic Will Return…But it Will be Different

Pandemics have an ending point, and the U.S. economy will bounce back at some point. Apple has already reopened many of its stores in China, so U.S. retailers can rest in the knowledge that foot traffic will eventually return.

But the coronavirus pandemic has made an enormous impact, and many customers will likely still avoid large crowds and social interaction. Now is the time for the retail industry to start thinking about how they will transition to the next phase of retail and what that will look like.

To your success!

Written by Brian Johnson