While individuals shelter-in-place, states discuss reopening plans, and the government mulls over the future of the economy. Retail as we know it is experiencing a seismic shift. According to WalletHub’s Coronavirus Shopping Survey, American consumers are shopping more often than was expected during the pandemic, using “comfort buying” as a way to ease stress. While most consumers are spending more on essential goods, 60% of consumers aged 30-44 (millennials) are more likely to participate in online retail therapy, with entertainment and alcohol topping must-have lists.

For all the uncertainty, COVID-19’s disruption has prompted organizations to reevaluate their product offerings and innovate on how they can support the community and their profit margins. With reinvention in mind, brands are contemplating new revenue streams, including how to move online and incorporate delivery-only concepts into their plans swiftly.

Ghost Kitchens

As consumer behavior shifts to accommodate the urban prioritization of physical distancing, foodservice operators have had to adapt to new revenue streams to survive. Offering delivery has generated incremental sales for 60% of restaurant operators, but it is still a giant leap for most. Now, restaurant operators are scrambling to adapt their business model to the delivery-only concepts pioneered by ghost kitchens. In some cases, restaurants are partnering with established companies, like Virtual Kitchen Co., that help navigate the logistics and nuances of delivery, from technology to menu design and food packaging.


Now that pre-packaged alcoholic beverages are considered grocery-type goods, and an ‘essential service,’ platform delivery apps likeBevvi, Drizly, MiniBar and Saucey — who specialize in the home delivery of alcohol and spirits — have seen a spike of nearly 250%, according to Neilson. WalletHub’s shopping survey concurs, with respondents admitting to using entertainment (29%) and drinking (23%) to take the edge off during the crisis. Restaurants and bars are leveraging the classification as an opportunity to liquidate assets by offering ‘to-go’ cups of their beverage offerings. And wine distributors are creatively marketing their blends with contactless sales of virtually hosted parties that include a six-pack bottle tasting complete with a sommelier on Zoom and Facebook Live.

On-Demand Delivery

Delivery logistics is fast-tracking the grocery experience, even as independent grocery delivery services struggle with the increase in demand. In the last month, online grocery sales for home delivery and store pickup reached a new record of $5.3 billion in 30 days, representing a 37% increase over March sales. Companies growing include Instacart, which has seen a 150% increase in order volume, and Amazon’s grocery orders, which is 50 times higher than usual. This surge has prompted everyone from Fresh Direct to Peapod to add hundreds of thousands of jobs.

You Heard it Second Hand

Despite consumers’ shift from apparel spending, resale platforms, like ThredUp and Poshmark, have seen a rebound in purchases, supporting the popular theory behind the thrifting consumer experience. Poshmark is using the momentum to launch a member video feature to encourage peer-to-peer selling. The RealReal is taking a different approach, promoting its B2B platform to fashion companies with a surplus of inventory. In the first two weeks of April, the initiative received ten times the number of brand applications compared to the two weeks before the pandemic.

Kindness Community

In the act of goodwill, fashion brands are stepping up to help with the design and manufacture of medical grade and pedestrian masks to ease the burden of PPE shortages. American Giant retooled its North Carolina facilities and retrained its team to address the crisis. Atoms, a shoe manufacturing company in Brooklyn, has converted its production capacity to make copper-infused masks, with a buy-one, donate-one program to support the NYC Housing Authority. In collaboration with medical practitioners and Nimbly Made, an on-demand 3D-knitting platform, the Ministry of Supply has manufactured 3D Print-Knit Masks° and Rothy’s committed to developing a washable, durable, knit-to-shape, non-medical mask utilizing their 3D-knitting factory.

About the Author:

Anjee continues to be an insatiable enthusiast of all things retail. She’s a student of culture with a pulse on future shoppers and the fleeting trends constantly changing the retail landscape … driving retailers, landlords and developers crazy!