Retail in the COVID-19 Pandemic

By Ray Petrick, VP Sales, Boiron USA


The COVID-19 pandemic will likely be very painful for many legacy retailers such as Kohl’s, J.C. Penney, and Macy’s, who are among the thousands of retailers forced to temporarily close their doors and could see an annual earnings drop of 50 percent. To further complicate this already precarious situation, other big-box retailers such as Target, Walmart, Whole Foods Market/Amazon and Costco continue to thrive and take market share from these players even during this COVID-19 isolation period. Big-box retailers along with pharmacies and natural products stores have become essential for helping consumers get through this crisis by providing life’s everyday needs such as: food, OTC medicines and health & wellness products. Moreover, pharmacy chains such as Walgreens and CVS are providing consumers with prescriptions, OTC products and COVID-19 testing. Troyen Brennan, M.D., M.P.H., Executive Vice President and Chief Medical Officer, at CVS Health best articulates how CVS’s has pivoted quickly to the new situation.


 "Being committed to the welfare of those we serve means being responsive to evolving needs and acting swiftly. This is particularly true in times of uncertainty, CVS is taking additional steps across the company to address the COVID-19 outbreak and protect patient access to medication. Being committed to the welfare of those we serve means being responsive to evolving needs and acting swiftly..


Many of the mentioned retailers have been well-positioned through the crisis by having efficient supply chain management, e-commerce, click and collect and in-home delivery options. These options have been loosely in place for the last few years in anticipation of a last mile strategy that was probably still 3 to 5 years down the road. In fact, because of the recent situation 50 percent of all recent online grocery orders are from first time online grocery shoppers. This will become a mainstay, particularly if there remains even the slightest health threat.

The consumer products industry has adapted by recognizing the impending need to change and how to best serve and increase convenience for their customers. Considering the changing consumer behavior and the soon-to-be-post-pandemic reality, the last mile is here now merging convenience with personal safety.