No past recession featured such a sudden drop in economic activity. Contributing editor Anna Robaton spoke with thought leaders from different corners of the industry. Our series on lessons learned during recessions continues with ...
In previous recessions, we’ve seen the strong get stronger and take market share, but this episode has taken many strong companies and brought them to their knees. In retail, for instance, the off-price chains had been the rock stars of retail, but they don’t really have an online presence, which has become a liability. In many parts of the country, we still don’t know when local economies will fully open. How companies fare in the near term depends a lot on their business models and financial strength because cash is king and every business is going to have to pivot to the new normal.
I’m a believer in the theory of “re”: Reinvent, remerchandise and rejuvenate. Right now, every company is looking at every part of their operations to determine the way forward. In some sense, what this crisis has demonstrated is that we are engaging virtually, at unprecedented levels, with our customers. Many companies are accelerating their digital marketing and omni-channel efforts. It will be interesting to see if this pace of innovation continues. One thing is for sure, retailers and landlords will need to use all the tools at their disposal to make sure that shoppers and employees feel safe returning to stores and centers, while at the same time rebuilding profitability.
Although Americans have been hunkered down at home, I believe the megatrend of experiential retail will come back. But it’s going to take time. I believe that our stores, restaurants and bars will be filled again.
The mantra of this crisis has been: We’re all in this together. Together means experiences. People will want to go out, connect and socialize again — as long as they feel safe. Retail real estate has an important role to play in that.