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The Retail Supply Chain Response to COVID-19 (Coronavirus)

By Thomas O'Connor | March 21, 2020 | 0 Comments

The rapidly expanding global spread of COVID-19 is having a major impact on retail supply chains. Affected markets are seeing a run on products such as medicines, cleaning items, toilet paper, and grocery staples. In addition, numerous retailers are advising Gartner that demand is shifting from physical stores to the online channel as consumers seek to avoid public places on the back of government restrictions on the movement of citizens.

Further, nervous shoppers coupled with a reduction in tourist numbers and temporary store closures in some markets are driving significantly lower sales in product categories deemed non-essential such as luxury goods and apparel. Quantitatively this can be seen in total retail sales out of China, the first country impacted by Coronavirus, where government figures indicate overall retail spend in the first two months of 2020 declined by 20.5% with further reports indicating a 30-40% reduction in recent European fashion and apparel sales.

So what should retail supply chain leaders be doing in this environment? Gartner has identified a number of key actions in terms of both the near-term response and the mid-term recover that you can see in the accompanying graphic below. I personally have also recorded a podcast that is available to Gartner clients (Podcast: The Retail Supply Chain Response to COVID-19) and will be publishing additional research in the coming days.

Finally, whether you are a Gartner client or not, I strongly recommend accessing this free resource that provides a collection of Gartner resources on how to protect your people, maintain operations and sustain your organization during the pandemic and beyond


The Gartner Blog Network provides an opportunity for Gartner analysts to test ideas and move research forward. Because the content posted by Gartner analysts on this site does not undergo our standard editorial review, all comments or opinions expressed hereunder are those of the individual contributors and do not represent the views of Gartner, Inc. or its management.

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