The reality is that consumer confidence is likely to be impossible to predict for the foreseeable future. Particularly for 'non-essential' retail where the inevitable impact of the forthcoming recession on discretionary spend, combined with reluctance to brave the High Street for health and queue avoidance reasons, will combine to make it especially bumpy. Shopping in bricks and mortar stores is decidedly less convenient and enjoyable than it used to be so customers need to have a fairly urgent mission to put themselves through the experience.
All this points to the need for retailer agility. There are two aspects to this - customer proposition and organisational agility. To give customers a reason to spend money and visit stores requires product innovation, personalised marketing and the genuine use of omnichannel techniques to make the journey easy for customers. Big discounts will also help of course!
Organisational agility is required to do this. The ability to 'watch and learn', 'test and learn' and move at pace is essential. As is the ability to create as much flexibility in the cost structure of the business. Now is a great time to leave no stone unturned on all aspects of cost - rent, payroll and cost of goods being the most obvious. However, what will really define the winners in the aftermath of the crisis is the ability of retail leaders to prioritise their attention in the right way, make rapid data-based decisions and be brave enough to change direction if need be. Now is the time for retail Exec teams to radically change how they lead their businesses, cast off constraining governance processes and accelerate the transformation of their businesses by creating genuinely agile and learning organisations.