On Thursday evening, Nationwide Marketing Group conducted a quick-turn survey of its membership to try to get a better understanding of how the independent retail channel is responding to and operating through the fast-evolving COVID-19 outbreak. More than 460 members responded to the survey in a 24-hour period, providing the industry’s first glimpse into the independent retail landscape.
Among the key findings from the survey, two-thirds of reporting members said they plan to maintain normal operating hours. More than half of dealers reported year-over-year comparable sales that have met or exceeded last year, a figure that comes despite 52% of participating dealers reporting a significant decrease in foot traffic over the past week. On the digital side, 76% of dealers said that online traffic was either steady or up. Only 5% of dealers have taken the drastic step of completely shutting down their stores.
What’s clear from the survey, though, is that independent retailers are making at least some operational changes in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, with the intent of creating a safe environment to continue operating a retail business that is safe for both customers and employees. Slightly over 95% of dealers reported that they’ve increased cleaning and sanitization processes in-store and with delivery and service teams in the field. Another 21% of dealers reported implementing social distancing practices with their internal team interactions and interactions with customers in-store and in the field. And 20% of dealers reported implementing new precautionary measures around deliveries, including wearing gloves and shoe covers, mandatory hand sanitizer use and calling customers to ensure no one at the home is sick.
As the COVID-19 outbreak has created an environment of fluidity, Nationwide Marketing Group intends to continue surveying its members over the next several weeks in an effort to continue tracking the health of the industry in the face of this pandemic.
Rob is the corporate communications manager for Nationwide Marketing Group.