If you are like me, you can’t wait for December 31st, when we can say goodbye to 2020. I have heard it called a dumpster fire and a train wreck. The common thread through whatever anyone calls 2020 is that it has been an ugly mess.
Everyone started the year strong even in the face of tariff pressures on goods coming out of China. Then March came, and our world changed forever. Covid closures wrecked the supply chain and caused retailers to run their businesses while their doors were closed. Attention to cash flow and cash burn was not elective, but the key to survival. There were furloughs and struggles for “forgivable” SBA loans, then our world was dominated by the letter P as in PPE and PPP.
While this seems like a no–brainer to all of us, we had to tell the world that home furnishing retailers are essential businesses. How that can be a question when we provide essential items for every home in America is beyond me. However, our HFA team had to fight to make that point. (and still do) Then we quickly had to pivot to make the case that we can conduct that essential business safely. In my view, those messages we provided to members and that we sent to Congressional offices, state capitols, and city halls are a key to keeping retailers in business.
With the threat of more closures or restrictions, I must admit that some of our members might not survive all this. That may be a sad reality of 2020. HFA stands ready, as always, to help our members weather any storm with critical resources, education, and advocacy.
You are probably exhausted, just reading this. So, let me flip the script. In case you don’t know, I have a half–full perspective, so I want us to leave the litany of Covid challenges and look forward. Remember, the windshield in your car is much bigger than the rearview for a reason. There are always promising new things up ahead.
What I see as the promise of 2021:
- The competition to bring a vaccine, or vaccines, to market is yielding a lot of possibilities. There is a chance we can slowly come out of this Covid haze in the first half of next year. Just don’t call what is next the “new normal.” I think “normal” is a permanent casualty of the pandemic.
- The supply chain will catch up, hopefully in the first half of the year.
- Many home furnishing retailers will further embrace digital marketing and eComm, which will continue to become a more critical part of their overall business.
- Many store owners have told me they are now more in tune with their business; many are working the floor again. That involvement will help grow engagement with their teams and reshape how many retailers interact with customers.
- HFA will grow as the leading advocate for our industry. We learned in 2020 that our collective voice matters. HFA has taken the lead on issues important to our members, and we have no plans to slow down. We have the ear of local, state, and federal legislators thanks to our strong advocacy efforts.
My crystal ball has the luminance of a bowling ball, so I can’t tell you 2021 will be easy. I can say to you that our approach at HFA is to be relentless for you, our members. We are aggressively looking for new resources to help your business thrive no matter what, advocating for you in the halls of influence and providing ways to connect with other retailers to share best practices.
We can do this. We are 2020 battle–tested and ready for the calendar to turn over to 2021. We don’t plan to be swamped by the waves of uncertainty; we are learning to surf. Grab your board and join us.