Through the Retail Lens: Global Opportunities and Obstacles
National Retail Federation | June 8, 2020
Neil Saunders is managing director and retail analyst for GlobalData, a market data and analytics firm. Saunders brings a global perspective to the impact of COVID-19 on retail.
No country has been immune from the impacts of the pandemic and retailers across the globe have been badly affected. Indeed, across 2020 Saunders forecasts that spending in the 50 largest retail markets will be around $528 billion lower than it was in 2019.
Like the U.S., all countries have seen a spike in online sales and grocery retailers have outperformed as consumers started to stockpile. However, countries where consumers are very digitally enabled in terms of shopping — like China, South Korea and Singapore — have seen sales hold up better as retail brands quickly switched from physical to online engagement.
Chinese cosmetics retailer Lin Qingxuan deployed beauty advisors from its closed stores to become online influencers; these influencers leveraged social media platforms such as WeChat to actively engage with customers. Meanwhile in France, Carrefour has found a new platform to help it fulfill deliveries during lockdown, as it entered a partnership with Uber Eats to bring essential grocery items to customers.
Not only do these processes help maintain distance; they also increase efficiency and speed within stores, which helps improve productivity — something that is vital when the bottom line is under so much pressure. In the end, retailers will respond imaginatively and creatively to this crisis and that will enhance retail for all of us.