Michigan to Ban Retailers From Selling 'Nonessential' Items and Other COVID-19 News
Here are the latest stories to emerge as retailers and brands deal with the impact that the global spread of the coronavirus has had on their businesses. This daily update offers retail executives the chance to stay-up-to-date on all that's happening within the retail industry, particularly as they put into motion their own COVID-19 response plans.
- Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer issued a new stay-at-home order via YouTube on Thursday that bars large stores like Walmart, Costco, and Target from selling "nonessential" items such as plants, furniture, paint, and more. "If you're not buying food or medicine or other essential items, you should not be going to the store," Whitmer said Thursday of the new order. With the order, Michigan joins Vermont and several local governments that have taken similar measures, prompting stores to rope off aisles and bar certain purchases. The order, which stays in effect until May 1, specifically requires stores larger than 50,000 square feet to close areas dedicated to carpeting, flooring, furniture, garden centers, plant nurseries, or paint. The order suggests that stores close these sections by "placing signs in aisles, posting prominent signs, removing goods from shelves," or using other means.
- Some good news: With billions of people under stay-at-home directives during the coronavirus pandemic, e-commerce is booming across the world. In North America, specifically, the number of online orders for web-only online retailers were up 52 percent year-over-year in the United States and Canada in the period between March 22 and April 4, according to an online tracker from marketing platform Emarsys and analytics platform GoodData. For more traditional store-based retailers, the number of online orders in the U.S. and Canada were up 56 percent year-over-year for the same period.
- Bed Bath & Beyond has asked a judge to hold 1-800-Flowers.com to a $252 million deal between the companies in what appears to be one of the first examples of a corporate sale coming unraveled due to the coronavirus pandemic. According to an April 2 Reuters article, the internet retailer of flowers and gift baskets agreed in February to buy the PersonalizationMall.com business from home furnishings retailer Bed Bath & Beyond, with a closing date of March 30. Bed Bath & Beyond said in its complaint, filed in Delaware’s Court of Chancery, that 1-800-Flowers.com told it on March 24 that the COVID-19 outbreak denied the company the resources necessary to close the deal and integrate the business. 1-800-Flowers.com said it was delaying closing to April 30, according to the filing.
- Last week, eBay announced the launch of "Up & Running," an accelerator program targeted to helping retailers without an e-commerce presence transition to selling online in the current environment. The e-commerce platform is pledging $100 million to support North American small businesses. As part of the program, eBay is offering new businesses a free basic eBay store for three months and waiving selling fees for up to 500 sold items, according to the company's statement. In addition, eBay will provide marketing and merchandising tools, discounted shipping supplies, and customization features so businesses can build their brands. The Up & Running program will also provide educational webinars, individual support, and access to sellers who can mentor e-commerce novices. Over the next few weeks, eBay will highlight small businesses on its site.