We are so ready to say goodbye to the pandemic, and predictions are that this fall will see a resurgence of sales for brick and mortar retail. The public is eager for in-person experiences, and communities are embracing the concept of buying local to help their businesses recover.

The cloud on the horizon, however, is the fact that according to The Washington Post, the number of global Coronavirus cases is not declining.  And although the statistics in the U.S. are encouraging, the fact is that as of June 22 only 45% of the American population was fully vaccinated.   We’re far from reaching herd immunity, especially in some southern and western states. And of course at this time the vaccine is still not available for children under the age of 12.

Another concern is that there are variants of the COVID-19 beginning to turn up in many parts of the country.  Dr. Fauci announced recently that about 20% of recent new cases in the U.S. are due to the Delta variant. He was quoted by NPR as saying that the rising threat posed by the Delta variant makes it more urgent than ever that more people roll up their sleeves to get vaccinated, especially given how close the country is to finally getting back to normal.

I’m not one to dwell on the negative, but we need to be realistic about the fact that we may not be done with COVID-19 yet.  It would be wise to hold onto the strategies we developed for coping with the pandemic, in case we see a resurgence of the virus like the second wave that hit Europe last fall.  If you take down your hand sanitizer stands, plexiglass shields and social distancing signage, be aware that you may need to bring them out again. Continue to offer curbside pickup as a service to immune-compromised customers, and it will be easy to ramp it up if necessary. The best practices that helped us stay safe in 2020 and 2021 should not be entirely put aside yet. As the saying goes, if you stay ready, you won’t have to get ready.

We hope that we won’t have to close up shop again due to COVID-19 – and we need to do what we can to keep that from happening. Let’s continue to encourage our employees, colleagues, family and friends to get vaccinated so that we can finally put the pandemic behind us. May the quote “Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass…it’s about learning to dance in the rain” inspire you to provide the best customer experience possible until this challenging time is over for good.

Happy Retailing,

Carol “Orange” Schroeder

PS There will not be a Specialty Shop Retailing blog next week