by Michael Sansolo
Let’s be honest. It's 2023, and we're all sick of Covid-19. We're sick of it as an illness, as a memory, even as a topic of discussion. New variants emerge, and the popular reaction is that we just want it all to end so we can get on with our lives.
No such luck.
The fact is that Covid-19 will have an extended and lingering impact on both shoppers and business. Covid-19 is an old acquaintance that can’t be forgot. Not yet.
The Washington Post recently ran an interesting article on how the virus and the accompanying pandemic impacted the restaurant industry. There are a lot of parallels to the supermarket industry. After all, both sectors are seeking share of stomach.
As the Post reported, the impact is felt in...
• Where people eat and how restaurants are changing to serve increased drive through service;
• How people order, especially the incredible growth of digital ordering;
• What people order and how orders have changed thanks to the bout of inflation still following the pandemic.
Supermarkets, like restaurants, had to respond to these substantial changes in consumer behavior at heightened speed, while still coping with an array of other problems from supply chain breakdowns to labor shortages.
It is something we've talked about a lot here on MNB over the past three years - the pace of innovation achieved by many businesses was almost unprecedented, largely because they didn't think of it as innovation. They thought of it as survival.
While I've talked to a lot of people in recent months who speak wistfully about moving on and returning to the way things used to be before the pandemic, the Post article makes it clear that this isn't possible. Moving on means moving forward, and means accepting that, in terms of operations and customer habits and expectations, our world has changed. For good.
I'd suggest, in fact, that we have to do more than accept this fact. We have to embrace it.
Many of the innovations that occurred during the height of the pandemic actually served to strengthen and cement stores' connections to shoppers. Remember, this was the time when stores became essential in new and, hopefully, sustained ways.
What passes for "normal" is constantly changing. What also has to be "normal" is our businesses' ability to change and adjust and pivot as consumer habits do, and as new issues emerge. There is continuing inflation to deal with, as well as a possible recession, persistent labor shortages and who knows what else.
Whether it is a Happy New Year under such circumstances is up to each of us.
Michael Sansolo can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
His book, “THE BIG PICTURE: Essential Business Lessons From The Movies,” co-authored with Kevin Coupe, is available here.
And, his book "Business Rules!" is available from Amazon here.