Retail Sales See Record-Breaking Drop, and More 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.
- Retail sales saw their biggest monthly drop on record during March 2020 as the COVID-19 pandemic forced many retailers to temporarily close across the nation, the National Retail Federation reported. However, grocery store sales climbed, as well as sales from other "essential" retailers, offsetting some of the decline. The NRF's Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz explained that these numbers shouldn't come as a surprise given the mandated economic shutdown to help slow the spread of the virus. Kleinhenz also warned that the data might continue to worsen even when the economy does open back up since it may take a long time for consumers to adjust.
- Brother International Corporation announced it will be donating up to 100 industrial sewing machines to support the efforts some retailers are making to manufacture personal protective equipment (PPE) as the demand increases. The first to receive the sewing machines are Los Angeles Apparel, Beverly Knits, Inc., and SanMar, which are all currently manufacturing face masks to aid in the coronavirus crisis.
- A website and platform called COVID-19TipJar.com was launched to help jobless service employees during the COVID-19 pandemic. The site, which is free to use and maintained by a staff of volunteers, contains a series of safe profile and linking tools that allow people to directly gift service employees with money. Service workers can use the website as a one-stop hub to create profiles to appeal for aid.
- J.C. Penney is contemplating filling for bankruptcy as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, Reuters reported. The retailer was struggling financially prior to the pandemic, but the crisis has interrupted any turnaround plans. Though J.C. Penney has enough cash to survive the next few months, it's still contemplating bankruptcy as a way to save money on debt payments and rework its unsustainable finances. No final decisions have been made yet, and the retailer is also considering asking creditors to rework debt as a different option.
- Harry's is donating $1 million dollars worth of shaving supplies to hospitals around the country, including in New York City. $500,000 in shaving supplies will be distributed to the 11 public hospitals around New York City, and another $500,000 in shaving supplies will be made available to hospitals across the country. Hospitals can request Harry's products by emailing email@example.com. The CDC has recommended that medical workers on the front lines remain clean shaven in order for their N95 masks and PPE to properly protect them against COVID-19. Since many medical professionals are working long hours during this time and may not be able to return home as frequently, it's important to have grooming products available at the hospitals.
- WW International, formerly Weight Watchers, pledged $2 million to provide 10 million nutritious meals and 3 million pounds of fresh produce to those affected by the current issues of food insecurity as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. WW will donate the funds via its charitable platform, WW Good, directly to the charitable partners on the front lines of these efforts. The company has launched a global healthy giving challenge that starts April 15. The challenge encourages WW members to participate in the company's in-app rewards program, WellnessWins. Members earn rewards by taking healthy actions, and can redeem those rewards for donations to charities. WW will match WellnessWins member contributions.
Ashley Chiaradio is the Senior Content Strategist at Total Retail. Ashley has been creating content for more than 7 years, and provides a unique insight in covering the retail industry having worked directly for retailers in the past. She’s passionate about profiling women leadership in the space.