What does Covid-19 means for Retail? Ways to fight it.

Learn how to manage the impact of Covid-19 or coronavirus on your retail business.


COVID-19, the coronavirus has affected more than 80,000 people, spreads across the world in a very short span of time.

Wherever you go or travel, only one topic that people are discussing is covid-19 or coronavirus.

The first impact of coronavirus or Covid-19 will be on consumer-facing companies.

Retail & hospitality are some of those sectors.

It includes everyone from retailers to restaurant operators, luxury-goods companies and cinema chains.

How does it impact the retail sector and other economies?

Today we all know that China is the world’s manufacturing hub; China produces and the world consumes.

One such sector is Clothing or cloth manufacturing.

As per the World Trade Statistical Review, in 2018 – China exported $118.5 billion (£91.1 billion) of textiles and $157.8 billion (£121.5 billion) of clothing, making it the world’s biggest exporter of these categories.

China is a major producer of cotton, fabrics, and silk, and its factories churn out everything from coats to swimsuits for fashion brands, from H&M and Next to higher-end designers such as Tory Burch.

Covid-19 will hit various sectors:

  • Supply Chain crisis across sectors who are dependent on China as a major source of raw material or finished goods supplies.
  • Delayed replenishment of running or moving merchandise due to out of stock situations– Most of the companies operate on 2-3 months buffer stocks and once their buffer stocks are over then replenishment would be a challenge.
  • The automobile sector as most parts is being produced in China.
  • Tourism and Aviation sector – as countries impose travel bans and restrictions, this sector will see the most challenging times.
  • Fashion Retail – Challenging times lie with Autumn-winter collections as most of the spring-summer collections would be en-route already.

With continued uncertainty around the Coronavirus and no signs of its spread slowing down, it seems highly likely that Chinese factories will remain closed & this will impact stock availability throughout the world.


Luxury goods sales to see a decline 

Chinese are the number one buyers of luxury fashion goods and are also amongst the largest travelers (nationality wise) in the world.

The outbreak has posed a major problem for brands like Burberry and other luxury fashion brands.

Learn how luxury brands are disrupting accounting practices, click here.

Ways to manage Covid-19 and learn from it?

Spread your risk: Find and develop other manufacturing hubs other than China. Brands Like H&M and Zara are less immune to coronavirus since they have a diverse supply base in North Africa and Turkey.

Explore new markets and Online sales: Retailers should give a push to their online sales efforts in order to cope up their declining sales due to this epidemic

Growth in online sales, especially in food delivery apps, predicted.

The rise in Media consumption: Brands advertising their services through mass advertising, online advertising will see a good response as the viewership increase is predicted as more people are confined indoors.

So it is a good time to advertise in the media.

Retailers and brands have a significant opportunity to offer gamification of retailing on mobile and drive traffic and sales.

Case study: Lush cosmetics.

Cosmetics chain Lush is opening its doors for passersby to walk in and wash their hands for free as government advice flags better basic hygiene as a way to help halt the spread of coronavirus.

They are encouraging customers to use their soaps in stores or in the malls to wash their hands. Those taking advantage of its sinks will be given soap to use and are under no obligation to buy anything.


We all can fight with coronavirus or covid-19 only with POSITIVITY.

Observe personal hygiene.

Watch how China is sanitizing their cities:


YouTube video


References: Business Insider, Guardian, Forbes, CNN, Business of Fashion, WHO, world economic forum.

About the author:

Ritesh Mohan is a passionate retail professional with over 20 years in the Retail sector, handling some of the biggest brands in beauty, fashion and fragrances retail & FMCG sector. He has been instrumental in the growth of some of the regional brands as well in the Middle East region. Ritesh specializes in Retail management, Product development, and Brand Management, Retail Operations, Sales Management and Franchising & Business Management. He believes in empowering business owners with his wisdom & experience of around two decades in the industry.