April 06, 2020: Grocery stores and delivery/pickup adoption, the fate of the traditional shopping mall, retail speculations/predictions.

No time for news? We’ve got you covered. Welcome to the Retail Rundown, your go-to weekly podcast where RETHINK Retail teams up with industry experts to deliver the top trending news stories in retail.

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Hosted by Julia Raymond

Researched, written and produced by Gabriella Bock

Edited by Trenton Waller

 

TRANSCRIPTION

Julia Raymond:

Today we’re joined by Jason McNary and Steve Dennis. Jason is the CEO of Spanish-jewelry brand UNOde(cincuenta)50’s North American market. He is also a RETHINK Retail advisor.

 

Julia Raymond:

Steve is a strategic advisor, keynote speaker, Forbes retail contributor and is recognized as a top 5 global retail influencer. Steve’s book “Remarkable Retail” will hit shelves on April 14.

 

Julia Raymond:

Jason, Steve thank you both for joining us today.

 

Julia Raymond:

Across the globe, grocers are under pressure due to the pandemic and tensions between grocery workers and their employers have been on the rise as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to place new hardships on essential workers. According to trade unions, in France absenteeism in the supermarket sector has reached 10-15%, even nearing 40% for some stores.

 

Julia Raymond:

In the US, workers at Whole Foods, Trader Joes and Instacart are calling for greater protections against the virus. Whole Foods employees planned a “sick out”  last week while thousands are petitioning for Trader Joe’s to pay its employees hazard pay. Instacart workers held a nationwide strike last week with demands that they have access to coronavirus testing and protective gear such as sanitizer and gloves.

 

Julia Raymond:

Some global grocers like Walmart are responding by screening employees at the start of every shift while grocers like Carrefour, Morrisons, Aldi and Giant, to name a few, have installed clear shields at checkouts. Kroger, on the other hand, has converted one of its US grocery stores into a pilot pick-up only center, suggesting it may do the same at other locations if the COVID-19 pandemic persists.

 

Julia Raymond:

To protect employees and the general public, should supermarkets and other essential retailers consider a temporary shift to a pickup and delivery-only model?

Jason McNary:
It’s interesting because Target actually had plans to shift completely on the pickup and delivery-only model, but then in the outbreak of COVID, they put this on hold and it was mainly due to the training, so they did not have the resources to continue to train their people on how delivery and curbside pickup would work. I think that the idea, in theory, I think is a great idea but I think that it just seems that it would be quite challenging for some of the retailers to make this shift right now.

Steve Dennis:
Yeah, I tend to agree. I certainly think in concept, it’s a great idea but I think logistically … I mean, definitely the training issue, I totally agree with that. I think you need quite a few more employees to handle the similar volume that you would when it’s basically self-service, so from a staffing perspective obviously there’s a lot of challenges there, but I think that’s very much a hurdle to overcome.

Steve Dennis:
Many of the grocers, I don’t think, have the technology in place for it to work smoothly. You know, the ones that have been testing it already or offering it already, clearly they can do it. I think the other thing and I was just trying to picture this, because there’s a grocery store near me that does quite a lot of curbside pickup, but just handling the cars is not necessarily trivial if you’re not set up for it. If you went to a complete curbside delivery model, the central market that’s near me that has curbside pickup, like all the central markets in Texas now have that, they’ve created completely separate parking, a separate entrance, and it’s still a pretty small percent of their volume. I imagine it’s gone up during this crisis, but if you were to go to a complete pickup model and try to do even remotely the same volume, I just think logistically, even if you could get the technology worked out, even if you had the employees trained, I think just logistically it’s very hard to pull off.

Julia Raymond:
I think of my local Trader Joe’s, which even, before the pandemic would always have cars struggling to find parking.

Steve Dennis:
Well right, right, right. You have to somehow queue them up and load them. I just can’t picture how that’s very practical even though there’s certainly from a safety issue [crosstalk 00:02:58]

Jason McNary:
Yeah, and I think even New York City, for example, curbside pickup … Clearly most people in New York City are taking public transportation but when you’re asked not to take it at this moment, the curbside pickup and delivery just simply would not work in New York City. It just would not work.

Julia Raymond:
And most European cities, I’d imagine.

Jason McNary:
No, absolutely.

Steve Dennis:
Yeah, yeah, absolutely.

Julia Raymond:
Well it’s interesting to note because online grocery just two years ago, UK was leading the way, at least with the countries I researched, with 7.2% of people ordering groceries online and France had about a little over 5%, Spain a little over 2% and the US a little over 2%, so to think how much grocers are dealing with right now is just hard to imagine because the demand has certainly increased. I know that there’s still a good amount of foot traffic but if we look at other countries like China who are hopefully on the mend right now and they say they are, it was 20% growth in food delivery during January when they were really hard hit, so I know that there’s a lot going on.

Julia Raymond:
When we look at some of the European countries, I know that Uber Eats announced last Wednesday that they were expanding their delivery services so they partnered with [inaudible 00:05:51] in France, with [Galp 00:05:53] service station brand in Spain and then a range of essential stores in Brazil, so we’re seeing some good partnerships happening, but I would like to just ask you guys, will the rapid consumer adoption of delivery for groceries and curbside pickup be here to stay post-pandemic or do you think that it will drop back down to the previous 2% numbers we’re seeing at least here in the US?

Steve Dennis:
I think it’s difficult to say. My general sense is that it will accelerate the growth that’s been occurring but I would be surprised if it really changes the trajectory, and there are two reasons for that. I still think there’s fundamentally … And this is true of more than the grocery, there are some fundamental reasons why people go to physical stores that e-commerce, whether it’s delivery or pickup, doesn’t necessarily solve. People enjoy the process, they like the food samples, they want to inspect the meat and fish. There’s just a whole bunch of things that you can’t really replicate particularly well through grocery, so …

Steve Dennis:
But I think clearly some people that maybe had been hesitant to try it are basically forced to try it and I’m sure many people will go, “Oh, well that actually is quite a bit easier than I thought,” or, “This is super convenient for certain kinds of items and so forth.” So I think it will accelerate it. I don’t suspect we’ll see sort of a wholesale change. The other thing I think is a countervailing force, but it’s hard to say how this will work out as well as the economics of delivery and even curbside pickup are generally pretty terrible for the retailer. So, economically clearly right now they’re out of desperation, they’re trying to maintain their volume and take care of their customers and so forth, but if you look at it strategically, you want to be careful about how far you push home delivery or at least how you do it, because you could absolutely deteriorate your margins considerably and it’s not as if the grocery business is known for very high operating margins already.

Steve Dennis:
So I think retailers will sort of slow walk, if that’s the right term, even if consumer demand really escalates more than I’m expecting it will.

Jason McNary:
Yeah, absolutely, I agree. I think that the growth will continue but I don’t think that it will be at the rate of what it is currently as Steven said. I think I agree with Steven that the customer really enjoys the experience that they get when they go into a grocery store. They want to pick their own vegetables. They want to be able to pick their own meats and fish for example. So I think that that need to be present in a grocery store or market is really important and then I think that you hit the nail on the head. I think that it’s very expensive to operate this type of a model, so I think that grocery stores will … I think they will figure out how to make the experience safer post-COVID for the consumer and I think that they will continue to invest in the experience in the store and making that experience safer for the consumer.

Julia Raymond:
So it seems like both of you are on the same page that we’ll see some growth but the trajectory will more or less return to what it would’ve been even without the pandemic in terms of how fast online delivery grows for groceries over the coming years. When you talk about the economics of grocery delivery, would you recommend to a grocer to figure out ways to optimize the digital experience and figure out how to transition impulse buying to an online format? Do you think they’re already doing that?

Steve Dennis:
Well, I think this has been the tension, and I’m not trying to totally dodge the question or blow it up to more broadly but the inherent problem in a lot of e-commerce despite its rapid growth is its tension between what consumers want and what actually makes money, and e-commerce is generally not especially profitable. As probably by now everybody knows, Amazon, which is clearly the leader in all things e-commerce, barely makes any money in retail and has had its supply chain costs, as a percent of sales, continue to rise and everything that’s transpired in terms of the delivery wars and certainly what’s going on right now with COVID-19, it’s hard to imagine how that squeeze on their margins isn’t going to be greater.

Steve Dennis:
But then, if you’re competing with Amazon, as just about everybody is in some way, shape or form, how do you maintain market share? So I think it’s a really difficult and vexing challenge, which has been true for several years but is only really I think going to be more obvious to people as we start to see financial results from retailers over the next couple quarters, that it’s really difficult to keep pace with what consumers want and actually make any money doing it when it comes to most of e-commerce.

Steve Dennis:
So, generally what I tell clients and what I talk about in my new book is you’ve clearly got to be responsive to customer needs and you’ve got to think about how to maintain market share and grow customer lifetime value, but you’ve got to pick your spots very carefully because growth that just deteriorates your economics at some point is going to catch up with you.

Julia Raymond:
Keyword “but”. Yes.

Steve Dennis:
Yeah, well and at the risk of stating the obvious, one of the things that’s been true about Amazon and some of the other disruptive retail models, whether it’s the home delivery guys or Blue Apron or whatever is they’re basically, most of them are terrible business models but they’ve been able to raise a lot of venture capital to support their growth, but they’ll run out of cash at some point. Not everybody, but many of them. But the people that are trying to keep pace with it don’t necessarily have that kind of … They don’t have the balance sheet, they don’t have the cash, they don’t necessarily have investors that are super excited about losing money for 15 years in hopes that eventually you’ll be successful.

Steve Dennis:
So it’s really tough and I think that this particular crisis is only going to shine the light on those dynamics and that dilemma more harshly, so I don’t know how it will sort out. I think it’s really hard to predict.

Jason McNary:
Yeah, definitely. I think that it’s definitely an interesting topic and I think that where I sit is that I believe that there is a white space here, so I think that there will be someone that will come along and focus on figuring out how to make this work and how to make it work in a way that is profitable but also engages the consumer. I was interested when Jet recently announced, I think it was back in January, that they were stopping the fulfillment of their grocery delivery in New York City, so they actually had a delivery service that I actually, personally used but they stopped it to focus on dry goods and other general merchandise, for example, but the reason why they stopped this delivery was due to operating margins [crosstalk 00:14:19] grocery, and not being able to really figure it out completely, but I do believe that there’s a white space and I think that someone will come along and figure out how to make it work and how to make it profitable.

Steve Dennis:
Yeah, I think if I can just add to that, I think that’s true. I think one of the ways to get there, which is not always the way lots of retailers have approached this, at least traditional retails, is they’ve tended to think of e-commerce and brick and mortar as these separate channels and often are organized that way and measure and give incentives based upon the different channel dynamics, and I think part of understanding how you could be profitable in this shift to whether it’s home delivery or just e-commerce more broadly is to really understand at the customer level and at the trade area level what your economics are like.

Steve Dennis:
So if you’ve got customers, just to pick the grocery example, maybe you have customers that will do home delivery for certain kind of bulky items. You know, bottled water or toilet paper or what have you, and you may say to yourself, “Well, if they’re only ordering $20 or $30 worth of stuff, and that’s low margin already, I lose money on every order that I send to their home.” But if most of their spending is on high margin stuff in the store, you may be fine with that mix. So, I think that’s one of the things that some retailers are pretty good at as they think about e-commerce is really … it’s really all one thing. The customer’s the channel, but you have to get it right in the mix of things, but if you sort of look at it at the margin on a separate channel basis, you may actually not pursue some opportunities. Not to get into a whole other thing, but I think that’s what … these off-price retailers that don’t have e-commerce, I think what they’re missing is they think about e-commerce as a separate channel, and it’s not, and they’re missing opportunities, I think, to grow customer value.

Steve Dennis:
But I think that’s one of the ways you find the white space, but certainly, there are other models where people will just pick particular areas or particular geographies and can make it work.

Julia Raymond:
Mm-hmm (affirmative), but it must be tough, like both of you have said, about the economics of grocery delivery for a lot of grocers who are relying especially on third party services like Instacart or Uber Eats to do the picking and delivering where Target and Walmart have their own services in house and are probably better equipped for that.

Steve Dennis:
Well, I worked in home delivery with appliances and electronics earlier in my career and I worked for several businesses that had … their e-commerce started as mail order catalog and there’s a few things that you just can’t change, until we get to drone or robot delivery, right? You still have to have some person or persons in their car or on a bike or whatever, going to people’s homes and there’s a rate limiting factor or whatever they call it of just how many deliveries can people make and how much product can they carry and digital does not fundamentally change this issue.

Steve Dennis:
Jason talked about New York and back when I was in the furniture and appliance business, we had … every delivery we did in Manhattan, we had to send three people [crosstalk 00:17:59]

Julia Raymond:
To climb 12 flights of stairs?

Steve Dennis:
Well, three or four people, but two people to take the item up and the other person to watch the truck, and so assuming you could find even a space because you … and I don’t mean because you’re going to get robbed. You’re going to get ticketed or whatever for blocking the street. So in New York, certain urban areas are certainly extremes but there are some just underlying physical, logistical economics that digital disruption does not fundamentally fix. The front end it fixes and inventory allocation and some routing stuff. All that stuff is technology-enabled but like I say, until robots or drones really become something, you still need some human beings to go make this happen and there’s just limits to the windshield time and other related factors.

Julia Raymond:

Next up we’ll go over some retail updates. Macy’s, Build-a-Bear, Victoria’s Secret and Bath and Body Works have furloughed the majority of their employees as the retailers face significant losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

Julia Raymond:

Tailored Brands, the parent of Men’s Warehouse and Jos. A. Bank, said it’s keeping all of its stores closed until at least May 4, while Nike will keep the majority of its U.S.-based locations closed for the foreseeable future. In Germany, Adidas and H&M announced plans to stop paying rent on stores forced to close due to the pandemic. H&M has shuttered two-thirds of more than 5,000 of its stores worldwide and is reportedly considering postponing rent payments in certain areas of the U.S.


Julia Raymond:

Many U.S. malls have shut down entirely, including Hudson Yards in New York City, the Mall of America in Minnesota, and the King of Prussia in Pennsylvania. Simon Property Group has also closed all of its 209 malls across the nation.

 

Julia Raymond:

Jason, Steve, how do you foresee happening to traditional shopping malls coming out of this crisis? Will there be a bounce back?

 

Steve Dennis:
First of all, this is a really different kind of scenario than the financial crisis or even going back to 9/11 in terms of the depth and breadth of how it’s impacting people and just the overall uncertainty that I think’s going to be with us for a little while. In the places where I have either clients or the most contacts, which is mostly for traditional retail, both vendors and retailers, it’s really, really bad. It’s sort of hard to get your head around. Even though post the financial crisis, and I had just left Neiman Marcus at that point, but the Neiman Marcus business was down 40% in that first month after the meltdown, which is a pretty staggering number and I don’t know what their exact numbers are today, but it’s down like 90%, you know?

Steve Dennis:
I think there are two particular pockets, maybe more, but one is clearly we’ve been talking a lot and sort of the action right now in terms of the differences is between essential goods and non-essential goods, and obviously most places around the country, around the world, businesses that fundamentally sell non-essential items are closed, and so I think one dynamic will be as those physical stores start to open again, if you’re in the business of selling things that are not very essential, or in particular, quite seasonal, I don’t think you get that business back, depending upon how long this goes.

Steve Dennis:
So, as I think about the fashion industry or high end, right now is the heart of the full price selling season, or should be, and it’s a little bit like the financial crisis, just off-season. It’s particularly bad for the luxury industry because the financial crisis was in September, or started in September basically, and that was when most of the full price selling was going on, and then the business really shut off and there was a tremendous amount of mark downs.

Steve Dennis:
This is going to be longer and deeper, and so I think that, financially, is a much bigger hit for certain kind of businesses and I think once you don’t … If you don’t go to that gala or you don’t get your new wardrobe in place come July or August, you’re starting to think about fall. You’re not likely to go back and buy the same amount of stuff you might have bought in March, April, May, so I think we will see a disproportionate hit depending on the certain sort of categories. On the other hand, if you were going to replace your dishwasher or something and you can’t buy it right now, once things open, you would probably go back to buying it, so you’ll see this dip but you wouldn’t necessarily, fundamentally change the trajectory of your business.

Steve Dennis:
But I think the other thing, which is really, really frightening to me is some of these retailers that went into this crisis very weak already. I wrote a thing a couple weeks ago for Forbes about how … Because I talk a lot about the collapse of the middle in my speeches and in my book, but I was basically saying that I think the retailers that are in this very challenging middle place of being neither strongly value oriented or having some sort of real unique product or service offering, many of those retailers, probably just about all of them, have poor liquidity and weak balance sheets. And so having this sort of hit when you’re already not particularly customer relevant and you have poor momentum and you don’t necessarily have a lot of cash on hand or the ability to raise it, that may really … In some cases it may just accelerate the inevitable but in other cases, it may not have been necessarily inevitable that they would downsize or file for bankruptcy, but it’s certainly going to make it that much more difficult to try to mount any sort of turnaround.

Steve Dennis:
So, I think we’re going to see quite a lot of not only bankruptcies but consolidation, so I think there are definitely segments which are going to be really, really bad, and then there’s the whole ripple effect to commercial real estate and vendors and all that kind of stuff.

Julia Raymond:
Mm-hmm (affirmative), and I did see that article on Forbes that you wrote. It was a great article, good insights. For anyone listening, you should check it out, and Jason, to Steve’s point about we might see a bigger dip in the luxury or higher-end items, how are you as a leader in that space navigating this?

Jason McNary:
I think we have switched our mentality to focus on the financial side of the business. I think that we are looking at the sales re-forecast first, to understand what the impact will be on the overall business with sales and we’re taking learnings that we’ve seen in China in our business there and been applying it to some metrics here to understand the impact that it will have on the overall business, but again, it’s pure guessing because we don’t know if the US will be the same as China or not, but we are focused on the numbers and then from there we are going to be doing new re-forecasted expenditures and budgeting process to help us arrive at really where 2020 will net out.

Jason McNary:
I think bigger than that, we’re focused on our people and our teams and trying to, while they’re not working, to … how do we keep them engaged from a human perspective, if you will, with us, and then the team that is currently working with me, we’re working on strategy. What’s the action plan going to be coming out of this and how do we arrive to the numbers that we need to hit from a business perspective during post-COVID, if you will?

Jason McNary:
Going deeper, we are focused on conversations with our landlords at the moment. Our partnerships with several of the mall developers that are here in the US market and Canada, partnering with them to, again, understand what the impact will be on the mall traffic, what the impact will be on our sales based on the mall traffic after this post-COVID and working on some scenarios with the landlords that are going to be favorable to both parts is probably the biggest project that I’m engaged in right now and one of the most important ones, I think, for any organization out there.

Julia Raymond:
Absolutely, and it’s great to hear that you’re taking steps from a human standpoint because I know not even in retail and across industries and travel, people are panicking, so it’s good to take a step back and think of how can we ease people’s fears and just do the best we can? Steve, what advice would you give to retailers right now?

Steve Dennis:
Well, I think that where possible, but this of course is easy for me to say, where possible, I think some of the things Jason touched on, focus, focus on relationships, the strategic relationships you may have with a landlord, vendor, whatever, focus on your employees, understand that as I think by now everybody does this, this is unprecedented, really difficult time and I think come from a place of empathy and compassion as much as you can. Hopefully try to take a more long term relational perspective than a short term transactional perspective, because I do think that loyalty and engagement and all those sort of good things, whether it’s from an associate side or the customer side or partnership side, people will remember that over the long term.

Steve Dennis:
But I think the challenge is clearly some companies have the capacity … They’re not staring at the edge of the precipice and worried about going over. It’s easy to say, “Take the long term view and invest in the future.” But unfortunately there are some companies that just really, realistically can’t do that, which is I think the real … the particular heartbreak from a business perspective. But I do think that at the risk of being sort of overly sappy or philosophical about it, I think we are all in this together, both from a purely human standpoint, but I think very little of the retail ecosystem operates independently.

Steve Dennis:
Retailers need their vendors, they need to work with landlords, there’s supply chain partners, there’s this whole host of players in the ecosystem and I think it’s … I don’t want to put words in Jason’s mouth but I think it’s in the landlord’s interest to have great brands like Jason’s company as part of their offering and you can go across the whole spectrum and see how it’s in everybody’s interest to try to keep these relationships going and keep business afloat as much as you can and then just get positioned strategically and creatively for when things start to improve.

Julia Raymond:
I just have to ask, because it’s been top of the news, but do you guys think Macy’s will come back?

Jason McNary:
I think they will. I think they will, actually. We started a partnership with Macy’s last year and that partnership has been a very good partnership for both of us. I think that they are doing a tremendous amount on the digital front to drive that side of their business, but I think also in store they are making improvements. This last year they renovated State Street Chicago as a store and I don’t know if you guys have seen it, but if you haven’t seen it, you definitely should. What they’ve done there is pretty incredible for the consumer and I know that they are looking to do some refurbishments in the 34th Street store that they had spoken about and written about recently. So I think Macy’s will come out of this. It’s just how they do it and that will be to be seen, but I absolutely believe that Macy’s will be around post-COVID.

Steve Dennis:
Yeah, I may be a little bit more cynical about Macy’s. I don’t think they’re going to go out of business. Macy’s, to me, is sort of the poster child for being a slightly better version of mediocre. They’re challenged by the continued shrinking of … I mean, this is all comments separate and apart from the current crisis, but they’ve done quite a lot of things and are doing quite a lot of things, which I applaud them for, but they continue to lose market share and they’re playing in a space that continues to contract and I don’t certainly see any reason why that’s going to change.

Steve Dennis:
So I think even though they’re among the better folks that are in this middle ground, so that, I think, is part of the reason why I think they’ll be around, for them to really be good, they’re a long way from that and most of the things they’re doing are better but they’re not really, as I like to say, they’re not really remarkable. So, what may end up being to Macy’s ultimate advantage, which is kind of a weird way to think about this as success, is that given that the sector they’re in continues to contract and they’re closing stores and they’re certainly not making up for that … It’s not possible really to make up for the store closings through e-commerce by itself, they may benefit from a lot of the other players going away.

Steve Dennis:
If Dillard’s, Penney’s, Kohl’s, et cetera, consolidate a lot, Macy’s is the better position player, will pick up some of that business. But again, I don’t know that that’s necessarily a spectacular result. It’s just that I don’t think they’ll … I think they’ll be around for a while, for sure.

Julia Raymond:
Well, I think Macy’s has a lot of brand equity and I definitely personally love Macy’s, so I would hope that they can come back from this, but one other question I just had for you guys is because we’re seeing all of these positions being opened up by some of the major retailers, Amazon, Target, Walmart, and I’m assuming these positions are going to sort of act like seasonal demand or seasonal workers. Do you think that once the pandemic ends, because it will end, that people just kind of go back to the jobs that they had?  I know that’s oversimplifying it, but I’m just thinking about what that’s going to look like, because it’s hundreds of thousands of jobs that are open right now with those retailers.

Jason McNary:
I think that businesses tend to operate based on the needs of their business and the trend, and I think these businesses such as Target, Amazon, Whole Foods, et cetera, they have a demand right now for talent because their business is driving them there, but when COVID ends and the sales flat line or go back to what would be normal for them, then their business will tend to take them in a direction where they won’t need the demand of what they hired. So it’s similar to what they said, like a holiday hiring. During the fourth quarter, retailers typically amp up their staffing in their stores so they’re able to take care of the traffic that’s happening, but then in January, that demand goes away. The sales are lower, so the demand isn’t there anymore and they tend to take the payroll down.

Jason McNary:
So I think that when COVID is over, you’ll see retailers go back to their models that they were before and some will maybe take a different approach. Some will probably have a more modified approach, not maybe taking it so far to go back to what was normal before but maybe their business has left them in a place of where they can support this new staffing matrix for their stores and for their businesses. But I think for the most part, in my opinion, you’ll see businesses go back to what normal looked like for them as staffing.

Steve Dennis:
Yeah, I tend to agree. I think, for example, Kroger reported a 30% sales increase off of whatever trend they had been on, but certainly not that kind of increase and so you’ve got this phenomenon which I think is absolutely short lived but you’ve got the stocking up, hoarding activity which is really just pulling demand forward. You’ve got the, I guess for lack of a better term, the substitution effect of people going out to eat as much, they’re eating at home. You’re just shifting units, I guess, not so much dollars, from restaurants to grocery stores and so forth. So, presumably we go back to a more normal volume post the pandemic ending.

Steve Dennis:
The only, I think, small, relatively small, certainly compared to the numbers you quoted is I do think some retailers are going to see that … and I think Jason was touching on this a little bit, are going to see that there are some different ways of operating that are either more efficient for them and/or meet customer needs better, so I certainly think … I mean, it’s been amazing to me, mainly because I work for a couple retailers that were pretty early in the game, but buy online, pick-up in store that so many retailers have been really slow to adopt that … It’s certainly picked up a lot.

Steve Dennis:
This whole curbside checkout thing is, again, some retailers have been piloting that and been behind it, but many are being in essence forced to do it, and I think that they’ll discover that, actually, even though as we talked about earlier, the demand’s not going to be as high as it is during this particular period, but I think they’re going to discover that maybe that actually works pretty well for them and customers really like it, and so there will be maybe a shifting of some talent and in some cases that may require more people at the store level. But I think in terms of fundamentally changing the hiring, I think we’ll be back to more or less the place we were in a few months.

Jason McNary:
I think that this is definitely unprecedented times for retailers out there, but I also think that each company has a select group of leaders that are there to drive the business and the strategy and I think that we have to have faith in the leaders of the organizations, that great decisions are going to be made and will put each company back out there post-COVID. I think that this is a learning for everyone and we’ll be able to apply these learnings within our careers, so I’m pretty optimistic about what will happen post-COVID and looking forward to being here and facing it.

Steve Dennis:
I think for me, I do have my book, Remarkable Retail, coming out on the 14th. I finished writing the book basically back in October and now it’s coming out, so you always worry that the things you were talking about back in September and October may sound silly or not as relevant by the time the book comes out or by the time anybody actually bothers to read it. But one of the things that I think has been interesting and certainly, I did not expect anything remotely close to what we’re going through, but the fundamental thesis of the book is it’s all the pressures of shifting consumer demands and digital disruption just puts an even higher premium on retailers to really coming up with more remarkable, distinctive strategies.  And I think separate from the balance sheet issues and cash flow issues that retailers are going to have to work through over the coming weeks and months, I think it just really amplifies that it’s even more true in difficult times.

Steve Dennis:
So, unfortunately, a lot of the retailers that didn’t make the changes that watched the last 10 or 20 years happen to them are not particularly challenged by the current circumstances, but I think the fundamental themes are true. My hope is that a lot of times, the challenges that we find ourselves in personally and professionally will really cause us to make take a different path and look at things differently. I do think there’s some good that will come out of that for lots of folks and lots of companies.

Julia Raymond:
Certainly. We’ll look for the silver lining. I see a lot of hashtags trending with that phrase nowadays, so Jason and Steve, thank you both for joining today. It was a pleasure to have you on the show and hear your insights during these tough times you’re going through.

Steve Dennis:
Thank you. Thanks for having me.

Jason McNary:
Thank you.