Will small businesses, retailers, and shoppers have themselves a merry little COVID-19 Christmas? While governors across the United States imposed coronavirus-induced restrictions on citizens and mom-and-pop shops during Thanksgiving, the nation might be sliding into a disappointing Christmas. This is horrendous news for the country’s retailers unless you are Jeff Bezos or the Walton family. As another wave of the coronavirus engulfs the nation, firms may again be the victim of democide – death by the state.
The Respiratory Illness That Stole Christmas
According to a new study by Travis Credit Union, half of American shoppers are slashing their holiday budgets. The survey revealed that U.S. consumers plan to spend an average of $374 on gifts this year, and 54% have decreased their budgets by an average of 38%. The death blow for brick-and-mortar establishments from this poll? Ninety-five percent say they will do most or all their shopping online.
Even if stores stay open during the COVID-19 resurgence, their cash registers are sure to be quiet. For now, the industry mantra is adapt or die. The only way to acclimate is to go digital, if they have not already – not doing so is suicide at this point for most vendors.
You may have heard of pop-up shops, which are temporary storefronts. But what about virtual storefronts? Joe Turow, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania, told Marketplace this was the trend even before the pandemic as the sector understood that online shopping is the new norm. And, surprisingly, this could be one of the best ways to compete with Amazon, especially if these firms go above and beyond what Bezos does, whether it is augmented reality or voice marketing (retailers try to understand how you feel by listening to your voice).
This sounds expensive for the typical shops around the corner. It is costly, particularly when they have been bleeding red ink throughout the pandemic. But even if stores build it, will they come?
U.S. retail sales have slowed down since the May spike of more than 18%, crawling to a tepid increase of just 0.3% in October. According to U.S. Census Bureau data, the only thing that kept the monthly figure in positive territory was the 3.1% pop in non-store retailers (e-commerce). It makes sense because who has the money or even the spirit to shop ‘til they drop?
It might be a trope at this point, but retail establishments may be facing a long dark winter. Should they survive Jack Frost, who has been diagnosed with the coronavirus, consumer behaviors might have been altered forever. Perhaps the shutdown has forced millions of people to rethink their priorities, questioning if that $450 black scarf sparks joy.
“The bottom line here is that this time of social isolation could be a boon for one and all — depending on how we look at it. As my dear departed mother used to say, ‘You make your own fun.’ It all depends upon our attitude, creativity, and perhaps a little navel-gazing to figure out just what makes us tick. So carpe diem, folks — these could turn out to be the best days of our lives.”
Staying home and licking the back of canceled postage might ignite more pleasure than tapping, swiping, and inserting a piece of plastic for a product that will be tossed in the trash anyway.
Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year. This may have been true for the last century, but the public health crisis that has been exploited by the power-hungry big-government acolytes has turned the annual festivities into another time to stay home, wear the mask, and leave Grandma Moses alone in a long-term-care facility. If COVID-19 has canceled Christmas, it will be another blow to companies that are hanging on by the skin of their teeth, unable to keep their doors open unless mask-wearing customers waltz through the entrance. For now, businesses will employ every tactic and adapt to the changing market conditions to survive. But it is highly unlikely they will be celebrating under the mistletoe, choosing to drink instead eggnog-flavored Pepto-Bismol.
Read more from Andrew Moran.