By The Kentucky Retail Federation
2020 has been a series of challenges for Kentucky retailers, so why should the holiday shopping season be any different? A survey of the commonwealth’s retailers by the Kentucky Retail Federation indicates the COVID-19 pandemic poses unusual circumstances this time of year.
More than 100 retailers responded to the annual survey, and a majority indicated that the pandemic has slowed their local economy, made getting supplies and goods tougher, and hope that holiday shopping sales at least match last year’s results.
“This has been one of the most challenging years in recent memory for Kentucky retailers. The shutdown earlier this year, along with the continued concern over the number of cases in the state and wondering how their customers will feel about shopping for the holidays has cast a long shadow,” said Tod Griffin, Kentucky Retail Federation president. “Still so many of our retailers have shown their resiliency and ability to adapt to the challenges they face and are ready to serve their customers in a variety of ways.”
A majority of respondents said the local economy in their geographic area was weaker than last year and expect matching last year’s holiday shopping sales to be a challenge. National experts have been watching supply issues caused by shutdowns earlier this year, and Kentucky’s retailers said one of the biggest hurdles they have seen this year is getting supplies and goods on time. Several said they have had to delay or even reject orders because of difficulty in getting needed materials. For example, retailers relying on baking supplies found a shortage of yeast, and outdoor sporting shops reported increased demand for fishing tackle that was hard to fulfill. Respondents also said they had trouble finding enough employees at times and customers were sometimes rude about being asked to follow guidelines.
Looking ahead to 2021, hopes for improvement depends simply on how long COVID-19 continues and how quickly people are comfortable going back out to stores. Several respondents said even when they reopened this year, they noticed the public was wary of going out much, even with the safe shopping protocols put into place.
“As you support your Kentucky retailers this holiday season, please remember to wear a mask if you’re shopping in-person. We also encourage you to take advantage of the many alternative options retailers have made available, such as online ordering, curbside pickup, and delivery,” said Griffin. “The retail industry is doing its part to ensure a safe holiday shopping season, and we are counting on our fellow Kentuckians to do the same.”