As we slowly start to awaken after our enforced hibernation it is interesting to look at some of the significant changes that have occurred in the way our behaviour has changed. Recent Bank of America research reveals that in the US online sales have increased from 16% of retail sales to 27% of retail sales in the period since the March lockdown. That’s in eight weeks. Arguably that’s more of a shift to online, from traditional , than was achieved in the previous ten year period.
We have no official Australian data, but anecdotally there are many cases where ‘brick and mortar’ retailers have seen their online sales doubling previous levels. Supply chains have been put under immense pressure as in-home shopping for groceries and pre-prepared meal suppliers enjoy exponential growth.
Data collected by ‘Kepler Analytics’ tracks people walking past shops, conversion rates and sales linked to POS. They review data from 1500 clothing, footwear and homewares stores throughout Australia and New Zealand. Their data reveals that in the in the week ending Saturday 9 May 2020 – passers-by were still down 80 per cent year on year (yoy), but up 61 per cent on the previous week. Only 48% of the stores they track had reopened, but despite this POS sales were up 47% week on week, but were still down 51% year on year. The conclusion, foot traffic remains depressed, but shopping conversion is higher which illustrates that people are shopping with purpose.
Online meeting platforms have become the new norm as people realise collaboration can occur in the virtual space with technology allowing people to communicate, create and manage. Whilst people are finding the restriction on movement and personal freedoms difficult, they have modified their behaviour for the common good. This has confirmed my view of Australia society as balanced and reasonable. We will come out of this with a renewed sense of ourselves and individual purpose. Sadly, economic hardship and reality will be faced as businesses face a new world, post the pandemic.
The cultural wars subsided for a while and whilst there is great debate around the politics of getting the country going again, there is a need to continue to identify with a common purpose. Small businesses are the nimble and potent forces through which the bulk of our employment must come if we are to rebound economically from this period. I have chatted to a few people in the tourism sector who have substantial investments and, they feel that with overseas travel being off the table for some time, that the opportunity locally for the tourism sector to rebound is there. We must remain positive. If confidence can improve and small business can ‘spring back’ with some good initial inquiry and sales, post the lockdown, we may avert many of the economist’s dire predictions.
Confidence and unemployment indicators will be the key areas to observe.