Australian Newsagency Blog

A blog on issues affecting Australia's newsagents, media and small business generally.

Retail trends of note in a COVID-19 impacted world

Mark Fletcher
March 22nd, 2020 · No Comments

I wrote this note to customers of my POS software co. yesterday and thought I’d share it here as it talks to some of the opportunities we are seeing, opportunities some newsagents are already leveraging.

We are grateful for the terrific insights shared with us by many retailers across multiple retail channels and in a variety of situations. These insights have enabled us to put together the following to share with you.

In the last week we have run 8 video conferences for retailers. These have provided terrific insights. We have also participated in teleconferences with suppliers to retailers. Collating all we have heard has helped create what we share here.

COVID-19 is not impacting retail in a uniform way. The differences present opportunities that can be leveraged…

  1. Regional and rural businesses are less impacted. More than 100 retailers in three different channels report an increase in sales in the last week. We think this is because people working from home are doing it from holiday homes and country properties. Some have moved back with family for the duration.
  2. Large shopping centre businesses, except for supermarkets, are in a world of pain. [Note: I wrote this email Saturday mid afternoon. At 4pm that day I got an email from one of my own shops in a Westfield centre and sales were almost double what we had been expecting. Plush, for example, hit $771.00 for the day, which is up for a Saturday. So, there … hmm.]
  3. Suburban high street retail results are patchy. Some good news but mainly declines.
  4. Some previously challenged categories are performing well – newspapers and magazines are having a terrific sales surge. In the magazine space, crosswords, real life, gossip and relaxation related titles are doing particularly.
  5. Games and jigsaws are hero product categories. Some of the more recent release games are doing particularly well. To balance this, we’ve been told of a slowing in outdoor related games.
  6. Everyday plush, sub $20, is performing well, delivering terrific growth. Beanie Boos, for example, are doing very well.
  7. Everyday stationery is doing well – pads, pens, pencils, rulers, staplers, folders … as people work and learn more in the home.
  8. Some fishing outlets have reported growth in sales of fishing gear.
  9. Gift shops, jewellers and homewares businesses have reported significant declines.
  10. Online, as mould expect, is surging. This is including click and collect / curbside pickup.

We have seen several retailers switch to cashless in the last few days. None is reporting customer pushback.

The retailers who have made significant front of store moves to serve the new needs and interests of shoppers are reporting good responses. Games and jigsaws are a good example of this.

Some retailers are having success bagging up packs and offering these as a bundle to shoppers. They make the shop faster and even facilitate curbside pickup or home drop-off.

With nursing homes all but closed to visitors, some retailers are having success delivering care packages for loved-ones who cannot visit.

These are all opportunities.

Looking back in our own software business, we have received a bunch of orders for new websites as retailers make this move. We have redirected resourced to deliver these quickly, efficiently. There is no doubt that being able to sell online has come into its own through this situation.

The other thing we are noticing is that plenty of retailers are taking the opportunity to work on their business. This is keeping our sales people busy, demonstrating our software online and bringing on new customers.


Category: Newsagency management · newsagency of the future · Newsagency opportunities

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