July/August 2020 – Facing the Music

With a mission to inform, empower, celebrate and advocate for British Columbia's current and aspiring business leaders, BCBusiness go behind the headlines and bring readers face to face with the key issues and people driving business in B.C.

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BCBUSINESS.CA APRIL 2020 JULY/AUGUST 2020 BCBUSINESS 41 When Canadian retail sales plunged a record L26.4% (seasonally adjusted) in April amid the COVID-19 lockdown, B.C. fared better than several other provinces, dropping L20.7% C AT E G O RY ( S E L E C T E D ) S A L E S * ( $ M I L L I O N S ) SOURCE: STATISTICS CANADA *SALES BY CATEGORY ARE SEASONALLY UNADJUSTED, SO TOTALS DIFFER FROM PROVINCIAL FIGURES CITED ELSEWHERE IN THE STORY When it comes to retail categories, the pandemic created more losers than winners in B.C. In a survey by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business in late May, just 3/10 B.C. retailers said they had fully reopened FULLY OPEN PARTLY OPEN DUE TO COVID-19 FULLY CLOSED DUE TO COVID-19 fell by the wayside because they were too cumbersome to change," Gray says. Those still standing will need to pay even more attention to the new new world, where every trend that was happening before the shutdown has now been acceler- ated. What is that new world? The first rule pre-pandemic was that experiences are key. That's why Nordstrom put a bar and a restaurant in the middle of its Vancouver department store, why kitchen- ware shops hold cooking demonstrations, why Staples is incorporating coworking spaces and studios into its Toronto and Montreal stores, and why many yarn out- lets have carved out areas where knitters can come together to problem-solve. It might seem like the pandemic has thrown that rule out the window. How can a customer have an experience if they're worried about even going into a store? As it happens, smart retailers are already figur- ing that out, consultant Read says. "You've got to think about virtualizing the experi- ence you deliver." That means letting customers explore in a more compelling way and giving them something extra: offering custom-shopping service via iPad, adding exercise videos to your sporting- goods website or making online buying a Feb 2020 Mar 2020 % MoM change Apr 2020 % MoM change TOTAL RETAIL SALES 6,268.0 6,667.5 6.4 5,509.0 –17.4 Motor vehicle and parts dealers 1,411.1 1,300.9 –7.8 1,065.7 –18.1 Furniture and home furnishings 204.4 182.8 –10.6 96.7 –47.1 Electronics and appliances 145.2 169.5 16.7 152.4 –10.1 Building materials and 398.7 523.5 31.3 543.1 3.7 garden equipment Food and beverage 1,508.3 1,988.1 31.8 1,823.7 –8.3 Health and personal care 483.8 541.6 11.9 436.6 –19.4 Clothing and accessories 345.4 196.2 –43.2 64.4 –67.1 Sporting goods, hobbies, 146.4 119.5 –18.4 59.9 –49.8 books and music General merchandise 688.7 800.1 16.2 709.4 –11.3 NO ANSWER 31% 61% 7% 1%

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