Perspectives

From The Co-Founders

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Strategic insights and commentary from The ROI Co-Founders, Pat Johnson and Dick Outcalt
Outcalt & Johnson: Retail Strategists LLC; Retail Turnaround Experts


As we noted last week, retailing is being affected by different patterns of seasonality. The old timing patterns for ordering, seasons, and events no longer apply. New "Rhythms of Retail" must be established by all retailers.

So it was with great interest that we read a blog post about Pop-Up Retail: Not Just for Start-Ups.*  It featured results from a recent study out of the UK suggesting that "the pop-up retail sector is growing at 12.3% per year. And the U.S. pop-up industry has grown to approximately $10 billion in sales."

As we know all too well, 2020 was chock full of "disruptions." Every week brought a new flexibility test. And those of course did not go away when the calendar turned. 

For instance, here we are on President's Day Weekend and Valentine's Day Weekend. Raise your hand if you were able to plan and carry out your "traditional" promotional events, let alone do something for your Valentine.

That's what we thought. The usual patterns just don't apply anymore.

 

Boy, are we ever impressed.

We've known for years that those who are following and/or involved with The Retail Owners Institute® are resolute, hungry, and determined. But wow! The challenges of the last year have brought out the very best in many of you.

We've heard back some of the most resourceful survival stores that we've ever heard. Here are just a few examples:

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It's a new year. And now, another new month. How about a new sense of beginning, a fresh start?

Alas, the coronavirus pandemic continues to prove Dr. Anthony Fauci right:"The virus is in charge."

As you have noticed, all around us there's delay. From Major League Baseball contemplating a month delay, schools and universities very slowly resuming in-person classes, or a decidedly different lineup and focus of Super Bowl advertisers, we have no choice but to continue to be patient. Isn't that the pits?

As Daphne Howard reported*, "Footfall patterns show that getting back to normal requires more than flipping the "open" sign.

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There's something in the air. And no, it is not smoke! 

We believe there is a profound feeling of "springtime."

We know; spring officially is still two months away. But that springtime state of mind IS here. And we all should embrace the opportunities it may bring us.

What's the source of this attitude change?

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"Keep your head up. 2021 is going to be great!"


That message is emblazoned – in sunshine colors - in the windows of Nordstrom's flagship store in downtown Seattle. And yes, on a drizzly January day in Seattle, it was a welcome sight this morning. A nice pep talk for us all.

And a fitting message to follow our reflections on the year we just experienced. 

Since March 2, our From The Co-Founders commentary has been focused on the pandemics. Revisiting those was quite the "year in review" experience.*

  • From March 2: "This is no time to overreact, nor to be dismissive. Look for the facts!"
  • And, "Our focus is on those impacts that demand the most judgment from owners."

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As we reflect on this year and the multiple and still-ongoing effects of the pandemic, we are inspired once again by the resilience and perseverance of independent retailers. 

Then we saw a comment about dealing with adversity that seems particularly relevant to retailers. 

Remember Cher, the entertainer? (And conservationist and philanthropist.) She was asked by Christine Amanpour about how she dealt with adversity and setbacks (like bankruptcy) throughout her career.

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This Holiday season is bringing three big waves for retailers, in rapid succession. And each one requires a strikingly different management response. 

Wave #1 - the High Margin Wave - has begun in earnest, and will continue through Christmas Eve.

Faced with the shipping delays (and surcharges), customers have turned to brick-and-mortar stores. The savvy retailers are ready for them.