COVID-19 has shaken retail markets everywhere. While many other segments of the economy were strong prior to the pandemic, the retail sector was in the midst of a correction, reacting to growth in ecommerce and other changes in consumer spending habits. Experiential retail was paramount to adapting. Now, essential businesses are king, and experiential is dangerous. Major international markets have faced unique and profound obstacles as their density and tourism—typically their strengths—have become their greatest threats.
But these markets are also often known for their resilience. After several months of quarantine, pause, or social distancing, these cities and countries have begun to reopen. Reports around the globe of “revenge shopping,” where pent up consumers push sales much higher than expected upon an establishment’s reopening, offer hope for many. A recent U.S. Commerce Department report also showed a 17.7% rebound in national retail sales from April to May, though it is still down 6.1% from the prior year. These numbers have larger implications for the consumption-based U.S. economy, in which spending drives around 70% of GDP.
Early sales reports –paired with the strategies and experiences of each market—offer insights for others, and a glimpse into the future for those cities that are further behind