Risk in Context

Retail and Hospitality: Taking practical action in the face of COVID-19

March 26, 2020

New realities created by COVID-19 are dramatically impacting companies operating in the retail and hospitality industries. The range and pace of change is unprecedented. Some businesses are re-defining their customer offerings. Many are fighting for survival.

The sector is facing into extreme headwinds. Retailers selling 'essential' goods are striving to maintain product offerings around the clock and limiting the number of items each customer can purchase, whilst the majority of other retailers are facing huge impacts arising out of the Government closure directive.

We are all adjusting to new realities created by store closings, workforce reductions to decrease costs, and unprecedented government interventions.

Taking a Practical Approach 

While few businesses could dare predict the total impact of this pandemic with any accuracy, there are practical steps that can be taken immediately:

  • Workplace Health and Safety: First and foremost, employers have a duty to ensure that they are taking any necessary steps to protect their employees and customers. Social interaction guidelines, health advice, childcare support, new communication activities, and homeworking guidance all feature highly. Employers need to be particularly mindful of increasing levels of frustration at the unavailability of stock and be prepared to support their employees who are facing increasing verbal assaults or physical violence.
  • Crisis Planning and Management: Response teams will be defining and implementing new business models while managing myriad resourcing challenges. Flexibility and nimble decision making is a prerequisite to overcoming supply chain constraints, demand shocks, and rapidly changing consumer buying habits.
  • Loss Management and Measurement: It is vital to set up processes to quantify and measure trading reductions (or increases) to support re-financing, investor expectations, and claims. Assessing opportunities to pursue recoveries from insurers, government, or suppliers will be critically important.
  • Supporting Recovery: This phase will typically involve financial modelling, refinancing, further business model changes, volume upscaling, workforce expansion, and training. All these efforts may need to be supported by innovative social media campaigns and brand re-positioning efforts.

Businesses who take action today to invest in strategic, operational, and financial resilience will be best positioned to respond and recover from the COVID-19 pandemic's impacts on their employees, business, and bottom line.

David Tate