Did you ever doubt that the mass retailer world, specifically merchants that operate pharmacy counters, would not rise to the occasion?
Last month in this space, I wrote about how it was time for mass retailers to shine once more, as if what they have done over the last year or so is not unbelievably impressive already. We needed the retailers to step up once again and help vaccinate America. And, we needed them to start doing it, ASAP.
Guess what? Just about a month later, it is extremely clear to all that the retailers are responding — and not only that, but responding in spades. After a few weeks of predictable distribution issues that slowed the rollout of the vaccine, retailers across the country are quickly adapting to the new normal — most importantly to help the country get vaccinated and protected against COVID-19.
They are giving shots, lots of them and offering information about how to best compete this pandemic. Many are even holding the hands of nervous and unsteady consumers, who have been knocked around a bit from this year-long situation and the impact it has played on so many lives.
The battle is far from over. As this issue, which includes a cover story on how retailers are fighting back, goes to bed, only about 15% of Americans have received a first shot and 10% are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Yet, as we discuss in this article, it is extremely clear that retailers and distributors have figured out how to maximize their talent and store locations to get as many people in and out as possible.
The hard part is protecting the rest of us with the vaccinations. Retailers are going to have to put on their marketing and logistical hats and do all they can to let their customers know they can go there for their vaccinations. That means using both in-store and out-of-store advertising. It also means educating the in-store team to ensure they continue to be able to answer customer questions and quickly, but safely, give them the shots they need.
The light at the end of the tunnel is visible, though we still have a few curves before we all get there. Mass retail is at the forefront of this long and dark journey, but, at the end, the people who work in this industry should continue to realize that they carried the beacon to safety. They provided the safe route to put this pandemic in the rearview mirror.
Stand up and take a bow. You are all doing great. Thank you.