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Craig Sundstrom

CFO, Weisner Steel
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  • Posted on: 03/27/2020

    Can Nike’s coronavirus playbook work for others?

    Agreed doubly; and I would caution further that even if this current situation improves by summer, fear of a reoccurrence in fall/winter may encourage people to cut spending and save instead ... that "rainy day" advice that makes so much sense at the individual level, but spells "depression" at the macro level.
  • Posted on: 03/27/2020

    Can Nike’s coronavirus playbook work for others?

    Wow! TMI for a sleepy Friday morning. Anyway, Nike is obviously a large company with (apparently) substantial operations/market in China (but I'm thinking that market share is still single digit percentages of their total), so for companies similarly situated, I would suggest taking a look. Though some of the advice, like focus on digital, seems self evident. Sadly, however, for the overwhelming bulk of retailers, if maybe in raw numbers more than volume, who are dependent on physical stores or are dealing with a customer base that has little or no income at present, it's all wishful thinking.
  • Posted on: 03/26/2020

    Should retail associates be treated like frontline health responders?

    They're in a middle territory: clearly more exposure than someone sitting at home, clearly less than a doctor/nurse in an ER. I'm certainly not going to object to reasonable efforts to reduce risk, but "reasonable" is the key -- an elusive concept here. Trying to maintain OR cleanliness standards may be a laudable goal, but if it causes a breakdown in store operations, it's likely to be counterproductive: masks (IF available)?, sure; shields? OK. Deep cleaning after every customer? Uhmm....
  • Posted on: 03/26/2020

    Joann Stores and Neiman Marcus sew hope for healthcare workers fighting the coronavirus

    I can't imagine anyone objecting to the activities outlined (how effective they actually are I don't know). The (potential) problem of course lies in the "telling us about it" part: some info provided by retailers -- grocers, pharmacies, even banks -- is useful because it directly impacts us. This really doesn't, so in addition to the "info overload" I mentioned the other day, there's a danger of turning a good deed into self-promotion. A company's own website and/or a discrete newspaper ad is a good place to announce these initiatives ... anything more aggressive is not.
  • Posted on: 03/25/2020

    How should retailers guide staff through the coronavirus crisis?

    Hygiene: it's hard to "wash your hands" every few minutes when you're constantly waiting on somebody ... the "minimal staffing" model that has become ever more popular in recent years really hurts on this one.
  • Posted on: 03/25/2020

    Are retailers and landlords destined to head to court over rents?

    At this early stage, I would think it would mostly be "tough luck": sales are down -- to zero in many cases -- but leases are contracts, and absent specific language to the contrary, the payment is due. If the shutdown(s) lasts for months, then we could see mass defaults, and perhaps some intervention will happen. There will be plenty of disputes, and much litigation.
  • Posted on: 03/24/2020

    Retailers are going to curbside and delivery. Will they stay that way?

    Let's be real here: retailers aren't "effectively weathering" the pandemic with curbside pickup, they're doing any and everything they can, but it's a small fraction of normal business. And that fact I think will forestall any wide scale movement toward this method of delivery when this episode is over -- it's just not efficient. Actually I'll put out a contra-theory: we'll be so starved for human interaction after this is over we'll see a surge -- albeit temporary -- in face-to-face interaction.
  • Posted on: 03/24/2020

    What’s the right messaging amid the coronavirus outbreak?

    "Don't." As in don't tell us "we're all in this together" unless they're really offering something useful at the moment; and -- increasingly -- don't tell us "we're closed" because at the moment that's a given. On the other hand, if you're actually open, that and any other useful info can be given, but selectively. There's a lot of info overload right now. As I noted the other day, the continued presence of ads for sales and other things not actually going on is weird, but presumably can't be stopped.
  • Posted on: 03/23/2020

    How will I pay my employees next month?

    I'm startled by the low revenue figure -- $22k/month? It really limits what is possible. I guess the first question is to ask employees their needs. This could be problematic if it's perceived as discriminatory, or rewarding those who don't plan ahead, but it's also important to allocate limited resources wisely. Beyond that: for those with the benefit of a little financial flexibility, try to think in the long term: avoid things like price gouging and delaying vendor payments "just because you can" that will do long-term damage. (That having been said, I'm surprised by the amount of advertising that is continuing just as if nothing was happening ... perhaps long-term contracts?)
  • Posted on: 03/23/2020

    Which retail businesses are ‘essential’ during the coronavirus outbreak?

    "Essential" is very much dependent on how long this lasts. If it were only a few days, maybe even groceries wouldn't be, but that obviously isn't the case at present. Longer term -- two, three months -- the need would change radically. What if your fridge goes out? Cue appliance stores; if your job requires short hair? Cue barbers.... As for national guidance, I don't oppose it, but I'm not sure it's really necessary either ... I would think it's not high on the priorities list.
  • Posted on: 03/20/2020

    Costco acquisition brings white glove delivery and white good service in-house

    Boy, seldom if ever has an answer to a question been so dependent on timing: in the long term this is likely a good move, but in the short term? Happily, Costco is a well run/moneyed company that can withstand having bought something that may have little to do for several months.
  • Posted on: 03/20/2020

    How can indie restaurants survive the coronavirus?

    And what about the servers? The question, I think, isn't really so much can the restaurants survive as the collapse in revenue is offset by a collapse in expenses as well, but "can the restaurant workers survive?" Guess what the biggest expense reduction right now is.
  • Posted on: 03/20/2020

    Will GameStop lose more than it wins keeping stores open during the coronavirus outbreak?

    I join Mark in thanking you, although I would point out the situation isn't different than any other multi-state retailer. And it would be helpful if the article made it clearer if the company is actually "breaking the law" -- as one commenter put it -- or simply trying to create a policy within it.
  • Posted on: 03/20/2020

    Will GameStop lose more than it wins keeping stores open during the coronavirus outbreak?

    To be completely fair (or thorough), definitions can vary between jurisdictions and sometimes be bizarre (PA defines beer wholesalers as "life sustaining"). That having been said, my understanding of the nature of what they sell makes the claim a s...t...r...e...t...c...h. That they are asking employees to patronize other stores -- and thus increase exposure -- makes the situation even more problematic.
  • Posted on: 03/19/2020

    Food retailers go on a hiring spree as coronavirus numbers grow

    Thanks Mark/Liz. Yes, the gloves/masks idea sounds great in theory but as Mark notes, there are problems with it in reality. It is reported that hospitals are beginning to run out of those very same supplies, and while I'm sympathetic to checkers who face limited exposure, I'm much more concerned about medical staff who face far greater. (I'm not positive we're talking about exactly the same types of supplies, but certainly one should consider the possibility.) It would be great if these were available for everyone, but we have to deal with the fact that they aren't ... at least for now.
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