While much of the rest of the world appears to be largely on its way to slowly but surely getting back to something resembling normalcy, the U.S. is most certainly going in the wrong direction– COVID-19 cases are piling up from coast to coast and setting records that are, frankly, embarrassing to many of us.
Blame it on the politicians – nation and local – but also stubborn people who believe it can’t happen to them. American business, including the companies that make and sell home furnishings products, are playing somewhat of a passive role in all of this, trying to follow-up on largely non-existent and conflicting guidelines all the while attempting to protect their businesses.
What is increasingly clear is that American business has opened up too quickly and that some sort of a reverse is inevitable. Will that mean retail stores closing up again, companies that supply the products being forced to shut down once more and shoppers returning to the safety of their homes? As we’ve seen throughout this pandemic, predictions are pretty much worthless so it’s hard to say what happens next.
But should there be widespread shut-downs again, a few things are most certainly probable:
- Online buying will gain even more market share, even if most stores stay open. People will be even more scared to go out and be social. Any business that didn’t get the message in April and May about e-commerce will have to learn their lesson the hard way the second time around.
- The back-up of product that was just starting to be released in the supply pipeline is going to get longer again. That’s good for bargain-conscious shoppers, not so much for the industry desperately trying to save its margins.
- Unemployment numbers will start to climb again and this time they won’t be furloughs or temporary layoffs. This time they will be permanent.
- And the prospects for any kind of a merry holiday shopping season are going to be even further jeopardized. A shut down that stretches into fall is going to be devastating for fourth quarter sales.
It’s a dismal picture and granted, this is a near-worst scenario. But not much has gone right with the way this crisis has been handled – or accepted – by this country. Let’s hope this outlook is wrong…but let’s also be better prepared this time around in case it’s not.
Award-winning Journalist & Consultant for the retailing and home furnishings industries with extensive business media experience in both fields.