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Coronavirus and Retail - Likely to by Two-Sided Coin
New York Ag Connection - 03/23/2020

With the coronavirus pandemic impacting more aspects of American life every day, many are wondering how the retail sector will fare -- both for big-box businesses and smaller independent operations.

Ray Wimer is an assistant professor of retail practice at Syracuse University's Martin J. Whitman School of Management. He says some retailers, like grocery and drug stores, are likely to do very well. But other retailers that focus on wants, not needs, are in for rough days ahead.

Wimer says, "The impact on retail is going to be a two-sided coin. Grocers, drug stores and pharmacies are going to do very well and actually increase their revenues in the coming weeks. This is likely to extend out to Amazon and other online retailers that are also selling necessities. Hence the announcement that Amazon is trying to hire 100,000 more workers to help keep up with the increasing demand.

"Retailers in categories such as apparel, that fit into the wants not needs, are going to have a very rough time. Many retailers have decided to close their doors for two weeks (this could very well be longer depending on government responses to flattening the curve) -- this stops a majority of revenue for the company. It is going to a very bad March and April, likely longer.

"We should see retail spending bounce back in the fall and winter, although it is not likely to cover the lost revenue this spring and early summer. Smaller shops may not be able to survive -- bigger companies may also struggle -- Kohl's and JC Penney are coming off less than stellar fourth-quarter reports."

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