First phase of recovery is already underway, as retail footfall declines are reducing gradually from their low point in Spring. Next phase of recovery will be aligned to vaccine rollout -- which could take another 12 months based upon phased approach to distribution.
Throughout this period, retailers should use CRM to remind customers of the safe environment that has been created for them, and the behavior expected in-store (curbside pickup, mandatory masks, distancing, available hand sanitizer etc.).
I think it will be holiday season '21 before traffic is back to pre-pandemic levels, but retailers can continue to recover in the meantime by making sure their multi-channel strategy is firing, and their CRM is pro-active.
Store managers are the pivotal variable in terms of a retailers locational performance. I've seen many examples where great managers trade poor locations well, and weak managers destroy value in great locations. I wrote about it here.
Physical retailers need to invest in their store managers, and ensure they are well armed and prepared for the strategic challenges the business sets them.
Barnes & Noble has the right idea, but needs to ensure manager selection, training, support and guidelines are all in the right place.
I completely agree, Gene. Most national retail chains could look to actually increase their prices a little, and explain that to customers by letting them know it is so that they can afford to pay their frontline employees more. The vast majority of customers would understand and applaud the initiative, and appreciate the efforts of often low-paid staff who brave the virus every day without the same protections as those in the healthcare industry.
The race to the bottom on price is not the only way to win market share.
As with most landlord lease discussions, it depends upon the balance of power and status of retailer financial health. If the retailer is doing well, they don't need to engage in changes to lease terms. If the retailer is struggling, some concessions may be made, and a share of physical store revenues or proportion of store sales above a certain level may be warranted. If the retailer is in distress, share of all revenues may be part of the Hail Mary solution - but maybe start with BOPIS sales only? The growth of BOPIS during the pandemic strengthens the case to include online sales in any rent-based deals.
This is a no-brainer, and I'm amazed more retailers don't classify pets as a member of the household. 41 percent of American households have children, but 67 percent of U.S. households have a pet - the math is compelling!
I must have completed five thousand store visits in my various retail leadership roles, and think the responsibility of visiting execs is to:
1. Listen/Learn - use the opportunity to find out what the customer and employee experience is really like, and how it can be improved.
2. Inspire - use the opportunity to share key strategic messages with the frontline team, and link it to the "why," not just the "what."
3. Audit - check if the strategic programs are being brought to life, and then feed back to the people whose role it is to form that bridge between strategy and execution.
Physical stores are a differentiator for GameStop as their main competitors in the category now trade online. The drive-distance-population ratio's can be managed over the next few years in conjunction with lease renewals (and what a great time to be re-negotiating leases), and if they make the most of the immediacy of their product availability -- they can remain relevant.
GameStop also needs to be a benchmark brand online, and if they can find the investment, leverage their brand capital in the growing eco-system of gamer live events and support services.
Finally, I would imagine GameStop uses Trade-In to drive a good part of their core profitability -- this should continue to be used as a differentiator as the online giants haven't yet made Trade-In a core part of their offering.