December: Despite Pandemic, Opportunity in Retail Remains ‘Exceptional’

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The second trend, according to Stewart, is consumer/retailer emphasis on physical health. “COVID-19 brought fear and panic to the retail landscape. The closure of non-essential retail stores to stop the spread of the virus, while mandated for public health, brought intense financial ramifications,” Stewart explains. “At the same time, the focus on health accelerated the development and application of technologies to allow consumers to shop safely. While many innovations were in the development pipeline, the pandemic greatly compressed the application timeline. In part, these technologies include those that facilitate touchless retail, including customer interfaces, virtual testing and try-on of products, payment systems, and hygiene strategies.”

Stewart argues the pandemic has also created positive change and innovation in the space. “Retailers, faced with loss of revenues that might and did cause permanent store closures, and supply chain professionals showed ingenuity and agility in adapting,” she says. “Initially, retail shelves were devoid of certain products, including hygiene items and food staples as a result of consumer panic and distribution challenges. Yet, very quickly, logistics and supply chain innovations provided remedies. Similarly, in-store retailers showed creativity and flexibility in increasing consumer comfort within stores and getting products to them.”

 



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