Retail is a Steady Eddy in a World Awash in Uncertainty

By Andy Peterson

No surprise here; the retail industry has provided some degree of certainty in an uncertain world.  Sure, there was a brief period when people stopped shopping except for the basics.  Yet, when reflecting upon the last many months, retail became an outlet for those stuck at home.  Witness the sales and earning reports from the major home improvement chains.  They have had a few banner quarters when others have struggled.  This is due, in large part, to people wanting to fill their time, and who did so by completing a home improvement project which previously remained uncompleted.  As essential businesses they remained open at a time when others were only able to offer online or curbside sales.  To be fair, others would also have made gains had they been able to remain open as well.  Some businesses were disadvantaged, and some closed as a result.  However, as an industry retail remains strong.

Aside from the fairness of who was able to remain open during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, its interesting to note Americans get something out of shopping.  And, let’s face it, even the poorest amongst us – as compared to the less fortunate people in other parts of the world – have plenty of material goods.  Shopping provides some psychological fulfillment in people’s lives.  Perhaps it is an abundance of choice, the ability for one to control one’s environment, or the absolute certainty of being able to meet our needs and wants that brings a large degree of comfort in a recent environment in which comfort was hard to come by.

Comfort, however one might describe it, is the commodity we all seek.  Whether choice, control, or absolute certainty is your thing, retail helps provide them.  Given what we’ve all been through, and continue to experience, retails’ strength, as demonstrated by its ability to deliver, will continue to be a source of comfort to Americans.  We all are happy supply lines remained relatively intact, that we were able to get most things we wanted, and that we could count on the retail industry in a world awash with uncertainty. 

The next time you walk into a store, or shop online, you can be grateful one of the most reliable industries of all time is there for you.