Shopify Unveils the State of Local Retail in the Midst of the Pandemic

There is no question that the economy has taken a hit since the pandemic began to spread throughout the world. Like other cities around the globe, The Mile High City has faced its own challenges — more specifically, the current state of retail. Shopify released a report this week in relation to how COVID-19 has had an impact and what this means for local retailers.

Now, more than ever, it is crucial to support independent businesses and shop locally. Shopify’s recent report digs into how Black Friday and holiday shopping have changed the course for retailers this year. Moreover, what retailers are doing in order to maintain foot traffic and sales overall.

“Like much of the industry nation-wide, Denver saw the majority of its retail locations close due to COVID-19 and the subsequent lockdown,” explained Shopify.

“72% of Denver-based retailers surveyed closed their retail location because of COVID-19 and lockdown”

NOVL boutique. Photo by Danielle Webster.

However, as we have adapted to all of the change and learned to live with the current state we are in, we have seen a glimmer of hope. Now, 62% of these Denver-based retailers describe their current conditions as “strong,” according to Shopify. Moreover, 72% of these retailers expect to be in better condition by the end of the year, compared to where they are now.

Next, Shopify dove into how an omnichannel strategy was acquired by these Denver retailers. “Adopting an omnichannel strategy — meeting customers wherever they are by diversifying sales channels, including online — has proven to be an important tool for Denver-based retailers. This allows them to pivot their sales strategies during an unprecedentedly difficult time for in-person shopping,” explained Shopify.

It is no surprise services such as local pick-up and curbside delivery have become convenient options for consumers. Nonetheless, a helpful tool for Denver retailers. According to Shopify, they have seen adoption rates going up for these services since the launch of the capability of their platform.

“Of those who offered curbside pickup, 85% did it for the first time during COVID-19 and lockdown”

Topo Designs. Photo by Bridget Burnett.

Topo Designs, an outdoor apparel company with a mission to create well-designed and classic pieces, offered their insight on the impact this has all had. Alex Bibby, regional store manager of Topo Designs, offered insight on the current retail strategies in use. Furthermore, what the holiday season can anticipate.

“This report aligns with what we have seen here in Denver with merchants making up lost sales through the use of curbside pickup and online experience shopping via Instagram. At Topo Designs, much of our business already came from the use of our online channel pre-COVID-19. In store, during mandatory city ordinance shutdown, we had an opportunity to switch point of sale providers to align with our e-commerce platform at the store level. This will give us a better-planned strategy for the future to keep our stores operational if customers are unable to shop in person.

During the holiday season, Bibby did mention the need to push the limits for how customers experience their in-person shopping experience. Whether that be greeting at the front door, to various options for shipping. Moreover, according to Bibby, lower customer traffic count with higher conversion rates can be anticipated in their retail stores. “More customers will shop online because of the convenience, so coming into the store needs to be just as convenient, if not more,” stated Bibby.

With the holiday season inching around the corner, retailers are preparing like they never have before. Black Friday and Cyber Monday (BFCM) this year will undoubtedly be an important contributor to total sales volume. In fact, according to Shopify, 72% of Denver-based retailers surveyed believe holiday shopping will be substantial to their sales volume for the year.

Even though this year has been proven to be difficult, increased efforts will supply rewards at the end of the day. “84% of Denver-based retailers surveyed plan to participate in BFCM and said that while shopping days would be stressful (29%), they would also prove exciting (63%), rewarding (47%) and worth the effort (32%),” stated Shopify.

Moreover, of the Denver retailers who will participate in BFCM this year, a number of measures will be taken to ensure safety and foot traffic. For example, a percentage of retailers will cater to in-store COVID-19 safety measures, rewards/incentives to in-person shoppers and promoting in-store experience on online-store. Furthermore, Shopify’s report shows 64% of retailers overall say their main concern is keeping consumers safe this BFCM.

Tulaire boutique. Photo by Lauren Magin.

You can view the full report here