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Coronavirus’ Wide Spread Impact on Commerce

Wednesday, March 11th, 2020

The impact of COVID19 has been spreading beyond hand sanitizer, medicine and paper goods. A wide range of industries from airliners to festivals, restaurants and basic retailers are feeling the impact as shoppers become more risk averse to crowds.

While cancelled travel plans are impacting airliners tremendously, the impact stretches farther than that. Whole cities are feeling the effects as large conferences and festivals (which often bring in lots of shoppers for the hospitality and food industries) back out. With big ones like SXSW, Expo West and now Coachella cancelling or postponing, more and more consumers are truly starting to become wary of crowds and public places.

This fear is also impacting everyday shopping habits as consumers decide to skip that trip out.

  • Restaurants are seeing decline in customers, with 32% of people from a recent survey saying they plan to eat at restaurants less often out of concern about the virus’s spread. It has even been reported that Chinese and Italian restaurants are seeing a drop due to their mere association with the virus.
  • Retailers are also sensing shopper tensions. To get ahead of things retailers are starting to communicate how they are handling the virus. Target says that they are bolstering pick-up service and elevating their in-store cleaning efforts (cleaning surfaces like checklanes and touchscreens at least every 30 minutes) to provide a sense of safety for shoppers.
  • And service providers like Lyft are taking similar steps, trying to communicate to drivers and riders how to stay safe amid and keep riding amid the pandemic.

With the WHO declaring this a pandemic, we can only expect people to continue to avoid crowds and stay home more, which will impact commerce across the country and the globe.

In light of this, it seems that brands and retailers have to do their best to manage concerns, provide support, solutions and most important have a bit of humanity in wake of this event. While shutting down or augmenting store hours to account for employee and shopper safety will have a negative impact on sales—it might be the right thing to do. And the silver lining is that it could positively impact shopper sentiment once everything settles down. Shopper value brands that put people first and it could be something that pays off in the long run. So think about not just what’s right for your brand and your bottom line but what’s right for your people and your shoppers.

Contributed By: Kira Walstrom, Insight & Strategy, Integer Denver

Image Source: Unsplash

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