Blog: A look at various retailers’ approaches to COVID-19 shutdowns

Melisa D. Galvin

The various retail strategies for managing under the pandemic have been interesting. Many have just closed stores under government dictate or by their own choice.

RH recently announced a massive furlough, for example, as it closed its stores. Havertys was one of the first to recognize the severity of this virus and closed its stores in early March.

In connection with these closings, some stores have downsized by permanently laying off employees, reducing capital expenditures and cutting compensation for executives. We see this most often with the public companies that have to announce such actions. Both RH and Havertys are public.

From my conversations, the furniture stores doing the best are in small cities or rural areas, often financing the consumer purchase in-house, offering more than furniture and mattresses such as appliances and consumer electronics, and are in the less-populous states.

Personally, I like Rooms To Go’s approach, which includes aggressive print and TV advertising along with today’s necessary social media. Its TV ads encourage customers to go to the RTG website to view the broad assortment that consumers then can buy online or at the nearest open store, directions provided.

In either case, the consumer can get store pick-up or curbside, or in-home delivery.

American Furniture Warehouse based in Denver has a similar program but with 48-state delivery.

One last point: When the recovery begins this summer, we may be facing some product shortages not experienced since the mid-1970s. Keep that in mind.

W.W. “Jerry” Epperson, Jr. is a founder and managing director of Mann, Armistead & Epperson, Ltd., an investment banking and research firm. Jerry is the head of their research efforts and has in excess of thirty years of experience in the publication of hard/soft dollar research which focuses on demographics, consumer products, furnishings (residential and contract) and related issues. More specifically, Jerry’s research in the furnishings industry is recognized on a world-wide basis for its in-depth coverage of suppliers, manufacturers and retailers.

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