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

by Thomas O'Connor  |  March 21, 2020  |  Submit a Comment

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


Additional Resources

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Thomas O'Connor
Sr Director Analyst I
4 years at Gartner
9 years IT Industry

Thomas O'Connor is a Senior Director, Analyst, in the Gartner Supply Chain Industries and Programs team, based in Sydney, Australia. Mr. O'Connor is Gartner's global lead analyst for retail demand-driven supply chain maturity, performance management and benchmarking initiatives (also supporting Consumer Products), working closely with supply chain executives to drive improved supply chain performance and organizational alignment. In addition, he is focused on how the supply chain can act as a key enabler of unified commerce where businesses present a unified shopping experience across all channels to consumers' in both retail- and consumer-products-focused organizations. This includes unified commerce fulfillment strategies, establishing direct-to-consumer operations and the supply chain's growing interactions with store operations such as fulfillment from store, buy online pick-up in store (click and collect) and returns.Read Full Bio

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