If your business is going to resume “normal” operations, you need to get customers back in your retail stores, offices and restaurants. How can you do that?

Monica Eaton-Cardone, an entrepreneur and IT executive specializing in risk management and fraud prevention, says “these reopened businesses face a retail environment much altered from the one that existed in mid-March, when the lockdown began.”

The retail landscape is changed too—several major retailers have filed for bankruptcy and retail sales are down—21.6% (year-over-year) in April per the U.S. Census Bureau  and down 8.7% (year-over-year) according to the NRF.

In April, every category of retail (except online and other non-store sales, which rose 21.2% year-over-year) was down on a monthly basis.
Specifics include (all stats reflect year-over year sales):

  • Health and personal care stores—down 10.8%
  • Sporting goods stores—down 48.7%
  • Electronics and appliance stores—down 64.8%
  • Furniture and home furnishings stores—down 66.3%
  • Clothing and clothing accessory stores—down 89.3%

So far, in states that have already opened for business, consumers aren’t exactly rushing in the door. But Eaton-Cardone says the lockdown has created opportunities as well. She notes, “Food-by-subscription service has seen demand so far exceed supply that prospective new subscribers are placed on a waiting list. In some cities, restaurants have pivoted not to takeout, but to foodstuffs and supplies sales, becoming, in effect, contactless grocery stores.”

In her industry, Eaton-Cardone says consumer behaviors have changed as well. “New risks are coming into existence,” she says. For instance, she notes credit-card chargebacks based on service complaints, typically made by consumers new to e-commerce and impatient with coronavirus-crisis-related delivery delays, are outnumbering fraudulent chargebacks, which normally account for some 80% of all chargeback volume.

There was one bright spot—building materials and garden supply stores were up 1.2% year-over-year. So if you have a green thumb, now could be a good time to start a gardening or landscaping business. Coined “pandemic gardens,” Americans have been buying seeds in record numbers for coronavirus-related reasons such as food shortages and spending more time in their own outside spaces. Data analytics show online sales of home and garden products grew 63% from mid-March to mid-May. Consumers and will need help creating their gardens.


Landscaping stock photo by welcomia/Shutterstock