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Study: Retail ‘winners’ recognize need to respond to pandemic

Retailers who outperform their peers are much more likely to see a wide variety of remedial steps for COVID-19 as important.

According to new data from RSR Research, retail “winners” with comparable store/channel sales growth above the industry average of 4.5% are more likely than other retailers with average or lagging growth to find a number of changes as “very important” as they work through the pandemic. 

These include offering more contactless buying options such as e-commerce and BOPIS (80% vs. 60%), assessing the flexibility of the supply chain to improve responsiveness (73% vs. 45%), changing store design to facilitate social distancing (65% vs. 55%), and offering contactless payment at the point of sale (65% vs. 45%).

In addition, winners were more likely than other retailers to rate steps such as determining changes in customer buying patterns (79% vs. 53%), adjusting business plans based on local conditions (71% vs. 48%), understanding traffic patterns to locations at risk for new outbreaks (60% vs. 40%), and determining formats that might work better in locations with outbreaks (63% vs. 55%).

Winners were similarly more likely than other retailers to perceive the value of geo-location data for the following analyses:

•    Combining geographic and demographic data for better business decisions (80% vs. 53%);
•    Workforce sources and needs (71% vs. 50%);
•    Supply chain network design (66% vs. 45%).

“As is so often the case, over-performers, what RSR calls ‘winners,’ demonstrate a much stronger sense of the need,” said Brian Kilcourse, managing partner, RSR Research. “The differences between retail winners and everyone else are nothing less than shocking; many average and under-performers just don’t feel the same sense of urgency to address the effects of the pandemic on their businesses as winners do. We wonder what kinds of conversations are happening up in the board room. Are non-winners throwing in the towel? Or are they in some kind of denial? It’s difficult to say.”

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