3 Ways COVID-19 Changed the Retail Industry

One year into the COVID-19 pandemic and signs of economic recovery are now appearing. However, one sector that remains sluggish is the retail industry. The pandemic and its consequences has posed a significant challenge to many retail store owners, affecting everything from consumer behavior to product delivery methods.

In this post, The Packaging Company will look at three ways COVID-19 has altered the landscape of the retail sector and why it is not all doom and gloom for some retailers.

1. Closing Stores

One of the biggest impacts of COVID-19 has been the lockdowns required to curb its spread across towns and cities. Unfortunately, retailers are the biggest loser from these shutdowns. Due to the nature of in-store shopping that sees many people pass through the same store, retail is a hotspot for viruses like COVID-19. Unlike schools and hospitals, which do cause people from different households to mix, retail has not been deemed essential other than for basic household items like groceries.

The non-essential nature of retail poses problems for store owners. Leftover stock that would either spoil or become outdated has needed to be thrown away or sold at a loss. Meanwhile, retail staff have been reduced, laid off or furloughed because they are unable to work. In November 2020, a typical hiring period for the upcoming holiday season, the US retail sector lost 25,000 jobs. The consequences of the retail sector going on pause are extreme and affect both the welfare of businesses and their employees.

2. Changing Consumer Habits

As well as shutdowns preventing consumers from accessing goods in person, these closures have altered their habits and spending needs.

For fashion retailers, a rise in casualwear indicates the lack of in-office workers who are instead working from home. Similarly, electronics and video games are also becoming even more popular as consumers seek to entertain themselves and their family at home. Meanwhile, products previously only needed in medical or hospital environments like PPE and strong disinfectants have boomed.

But what will happen once the pandemic reaches an end? Well, we can anticipate that consumers will return to some pre-COVID habits, such as purchasing suitcases for vacation or travel and buying formal, party and business wear when they return to the office or attend public events like parties and weddings.

However, some new habits may linger like the preference for face masks as people have become more aware of health risks from other viruses like the common cold. In addition, casualwear could also remain popular as employers integrate work-from-home days into the working week for their staff. One aspect that is clear is that people will be shopping differently with the rise of e-commerce.

3. Boosting E-Commerce

Despite the challenges of changed consumer behavior and the inability to sell in-store, the pandemic has enabled business to flourish elsewhere through e-commerce.

Prior to the pandemic, e-commerce was already rising as consumers bring more technology into their lives. Today, its growth is unprecedented, especially against a backdrop of incredibly poor in-store retail performance. In Canada, which continues to see multiple lockdowns and restrictions, retail sales fell 17.9% in 2020. However, this did not mean consumers stopped spending entirely. In fact, e-commerce sales soared and nearly even doubled in just a short space of time.

While the pandemic has put many small (and even large) retailers into financial trouble, the rise of e-commerce has laid the foundation for new entrepreneurs. Whether a veteran global enterprise or a fledgling new family business, the decision to create and run an online storefront is paying off for many. With an e-commerce platform, both large and small retailers can spread their products far beyond their physical range and benefit from lower operating costs.

Get the Packaging Assistance You Need for Successful E-Commerce

While vaccination programs offer an escape route out of the pandemic, it is unlikely consumers will exactly flock back to old retail habits. Greater convenience, cheaper prices and a wider selection mean e-commerce is here to stay for shoppers.

However, switching to e-commerce brings its own set of unique challenges to businesses. One such example is shipping and packaging products. E-commerce is much more than just having the right product and online store – it is also about bringing the products to the customer. This includes everything from the order confirmation email and packing the product up to shipping it across the nation and handing it over at the customer’s doorstep. With competition now at its most fierce, there has never been a more important time to have a robust packaging and shipping process in place.

If you are looking for a reliable packaging provider that can offer informed packaging solutions for your business in North America, consider The Packaging Company. We are trusted by our clients across the United States and Canada for our quality packaging that will impress customers and help your business to thrive during uncertain times. Learn more about how we can assist by exploring our site today!