According to the US Department of Commerce, in 2019 16% of all retail sales in the US were done online. While this represents a jump from 14.4% in 2018 and 13.2% in 2017, it still means 84% of the $3,763 Billion in total retail sales were done in stores. Add-in the current COVID-19 climate, and we are sure to see 2020’s numbers soar even higher.
Does this mean every retailer is going to shudder all stores and go 100% online? Probably not. In the midst of a pandemic with many adults working from home and children learning from home, will we ever leave our houses again? Unlikely. If quarantining has taught us anything, it’s that we truly are social creatures, and have been scratching and clawing to get out of our homes and back to “normal”. I know there are some introverts who relished in the isolation, but I’d imagine many of them even tired of it after a few months.
2020 has, so far, been a year where we throw out the playbook. We cannot rely on historical averages and norms, because nothing like what is happening now has happened before. The world has changed a bit since the Spanish Flu pandemic.
What we are experiencing now is a temporary situation. We cannot make long-term, sweeping changes to our businesses and lives, based on what we’ve experienced these past 5 months. Eventually, we will go back to work, and we will go back to our normal routines.
Organizations didn’t invest major capital in dynamic workplaces pre-COVID, because they thought everyone could work from home. Companies didn’t stop building brick and mortar locations at the end of 2019 because everything was going online. These spaces are still necessary now, and will be yet again once this outbreak is under control.
Can we take away some lessons learned from all this, and incorporate efficiencies into our operations? Absolutely. But, our sanity and our businesses truly rely on us getting back into our collective groove. Change is a constant, and can certainly be a good thing. If you’re not continually pushing yourself and your team to do better everyday, you’re falling behind. However, in this instance, it’s more about adapting to the temporary circumstances, being true to who you are and what your company represents, and really letting that shine once we’re on the backside of this situation.