Post-pandemic changes present opportunities

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Like everyone else, I can’t wait for the end of this restricted pandemic life of ours. Indeed, there are going to be work-at-home aspects of this current situation that will stay with us. We are working with that reality at HFA right now. There are customer buying habits that will stay with us. I believe that our lives have changed permanently in specific areas, from our work environment to how we shop. Still, we ache for more freedom and glimpses of living pre-March of 2020, but I believe post-pandemic changes present opportunities.

The hunger for back to normal is based on human emotion. It is our comfort zone. We’ve been walled in, locked in, or locked out of so many of the things we love from our day-to-day that we crave getting back to something familiar. That’s natural. That’s human. I am right there with you. However, what is normal? Is there such a thing anymore? I would suggest that we excise the word “normal” out of our vocabulary. There is undoubtedly a new landscape around us and a new pathway forward; however, change is constant, and I’m not sure we do ourselves a service by defining normal. New normal? Nice try; however, I wouldn’t say I like that either because it’s too neat and packaged. Change and challenges can’t be easily compartmentalized.

Instead, we need to think about what that next disruption is and what that next unexpected turn in the roadway is, so we are ready to respond. My biggest concern as I talk to some of our members each day is that many are not preparing for what might happen next. Many people are hungry to get back to a routine, and in some cases, that means reverting to the way things were done pre-pandemic. I get it. Routine and how we “used to do things” are comforting and familiar, yet I feel it is risky. If we sink back into our old ways, our comfortable ways, then I think we will be blind to challenges that crop up. We will be ill-prepared to adjust. The one primary thing COVID taught us is that we all need to be agile as we guide our businesses. That’s true for us here at the association, and it’s as accurate for member retailers no matter their size.

I encourage everyone to take a today/tomorrow view. How can I succeed today, and what can I learn from today that I can use to manage tomorrow. Normal is yesterday. New normal is a myth. It’s a time to evolve and reinvent, not revolve and revert. Let COVID go, but embrace the changes it brought.

Mark Schumacher

Mark Schumacher is the CEO of the Home Furnishings Association. To contact us about important issues or actions facing our retailers, please use our contact form.

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