There’s a lot of talk in the country about either “getting back to normal” or adjusting to the “new normal.” As small business owners we may need to face the reality that as my friend Laurie McCabe, partner at SMB Group, says, we may need to learn to deal with “the new abnormal.”
Already some governors are declaring their states are open for business. But, the big question is—are consumers ready? Recent polls from Morning Consult show it may be a while.
If your business is located in (or near) a mall, chances are you’ve been closed for well over a month. (The nation’s largest mall owner, Simon Property Group, closed all its malls on March 18.) However, 24% of the consumers who responded to the survey say they won’t be comfortable shopping at a mall for more than six months and 26% say they’re not sure when they would be comfortable (or had no opinion).
Own a restaurant? Only 18% of consumers say they’d be comfortable going out to eat in the next month or two, while 37% say they won’t be ready to go to a restaurant for three to six months and 20% say it’ll be more than six months before they’ll go. Plus, 22% don’t know when they’re be ready or had no opinion.
Gym owners are in a similar position—21% say they won’t be comfortable going to the gym or an exercise class for more than six months and 41% either had no opinion or didn’t know when they’d be ready to work out again.
If you’re in the conference business, 19% of consumers don’t think they’d be comfortable going to a work conference for more than six months and nearly half (49%) aren’t sure when they’d be ready at attend a conference or had no opinion.
The American economy is a consumer-driven one, so while business owners might be eager to open their doors, don’t expect American consumers to come flooding through them. Depending on the type of business you own, you’ll likely need to come up with alternate solutions—offering curbside pickup for retail products as well as food, or boosting your online presence (e-commerce, exercise classes via video conferencing, etc.) before consumers are ready to return to their prior behaviors.