Will The Delta Variant Cause Another Chaotic Holiday Season For Retail?

In 2020, retail outlets faced a variety of challenges to accommodate holiday shopping during the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite the economic issues faced throughout the country, there was a record-breaking 8.3% year-over-year increase in holiday season retail sales. The seamless transition to online sales helped many companies come out of the COVID slump stronger than ever. And while it seems like life is going back to normal in many states, consumers are faced with a new dilemma: how scared should they be of the Delta variant?


Over 65% of the population has received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, and over 50% are fully vaccinated. This means for many consumers that the risk of illness is reduced to a safe level for retail shopping, even in-store. However, there are several challenges that retail outlets will face other than a potential shortage of in-store shoppers: 


  • Staff shortages – Also known as the Great Reassessment, many retail, restaurant, and other industries are facing massive labor shortages. This is caused in many ways by the reevaluation of individuals on the careers they wish to pursue, along with the fear of being exposed to the Delta variant while at work. 


  • Supply chain disruptions – Many manufacturers are still not running at full capacity or catching up from extended closures in 2020. This is especially problematic for international supply chains, as many countries outside the US are experiencing second waves of closures. 


  • Extended shipping times – With online sales skyrocketing across the U.S. and internationally, many retail outlets will need to prepare customers for extended shipping times and higher shipping costs for rush orders. As the holiday shopping season comes closer, there will be several issues your customers have to contend with to get their packages on time, which can cause many upset customers and lost sales if you’re not careful. 


Retailers also have to resolve the practical matters of retail shopping during the pandemic. State guidelines, if any, must be followed and employees need to have safe options available to minimize exposure risk. This can be difficult depending on the size of your facility, but should be at the forefront of your mind before the holiday rush begins. 


While retail outlets are under stress this year, they are also given a prime opportunity to capitalize on a growing economy and consumers’ enthusiasm for a return to normalcy during the holidays. If facility managers are able to keep a close eye on operational issues and put safety first for both consumers and employees, they can expect to have a very successful holiday season. 


To learn ways you can prepare your retail facility with proper preventative care before the holidays, contact us. 

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