Editor’s Note: How retail has been transformed by the pandemic

I view this time, from the first of the year to around the end of February, as a bridge from the past to the future. 

Hopefully, by then, the much-discussed and hoped-for vaccine will start doing its job, protecting people around the globe from the harmful effects of COVID-19. Hopefully, by then, the world will start to return to some form of normal that will allow us to return to our cherished and much-missed routines, as simple as they once were. 

In the meantime, we have to remember the stark events of the recent past — especially the last 10 months — and really start to plan for the future. 

The bottom line is that mass retail aged about 10 years in these last 10 months and, when the dust truly settles, we are going to discover that some of the measures we were forced to implement were just things that were coming down the line anyway. They just got here faster because, as they say, necessity is the mother of invention. 

The hysteria of shopping in March and April gave way to sensible retailing in the late spring and early summer. Not everything worked. Some steps were a waste of time and money but, at the moment, seemed like a good thing to try. 

Other innovations were big successes. They efficiently and effectively accomplished such things as protecting consumers and store workers. They got more products on store shelves, just in the nick of time. They helped to restore confidence in shopping at mass retail outlets, just at a point when consumers were a bit unsure of what to do and when to do it when it came to feeding their families and taking the necessary steps to make sure they did all they could to protect their health. 

And we cannot forget what the front-line workers at retail did during the worst of the pandemic, in the early spring and again in November and December. They went to work. While many of us had the ability to stay home and stay protected, these people put their clothes on and, usually with a smile on their faces, dealt with the public. They did that simple act while facing grave danger — an invisible, deadly virus that has taken nearly 400,000 American lives as of this writing. 

So good riddance to 2020. Hello to a new year, with new hopes and expectations. Let’s hope it’s a good one. 

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