The congress must campaign for the “Middle Market Retail” – RetailWire
Grocers, mass marketers, and storage clubs may do big business with consumers stocking up on everyday staples as the reality of social distancing and home ordering becomes all too real for millions of Americans. As these major retailers seek labor to meet growing demand, others in the apparel and non-essential categories are closing stores across the country and taking workers on leave in unprecedented numbers in the retail industry and the country’s history.
Congress has passed a number of laws to help alleviate the pain so many are feeling, but there is still a lot to be done, according to Stephen Smith, CEO of LLBean.
In an interview with CNBCs Courtney Reagan, Mr Smith, claimed that the recently passed US $ 2 trillion stimulus package was not aimed at “medium-sized retailers” like his. Major retailers continue to operate, he said, while smaller retailers with fewer than 500 employees are eligible for Small Business Administration loans. Medium-sized companies employ up to 30 million people, either directly or as salespeople.
“All of these clothing retailers, every garment label someone is wearing, they are all struggling with full rent, full payroll, and almost zero sales when they are in business,” said Mr. Smith.
LLBean has closed its stores but continues to fulfill orders placed online and over the phone.
A message posted on the Bean website states that the retailer has “implemented temporary measures such as voluntary unpaid days, extended” missing work programs as well as shortened working weeks and wage cuts for employees at all levels. This will allow us to continue to provide medical care to our hardworking employees and to help them get back to our customers quickly when stores reopen and business resumes. “
Like other companies that have stepped up during this crisis, Bean employs people to make face masks for medical workers. The material used in the masks comes from the company’s dog bed inserts, which Mr. Smith described to CNBC as breathable, durable and washable.
“Some of our employees said, ‘Hey, we’re the best staplers, tailors, and seamstresses. We make the best boots in the world. … We can also make masks, dresses and ankle boots, and they immediately started experimenting, ”he said.
Bean expects to be making about 10,000 masks a day by the end of this week. The masks are tested by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do you agree with Stephen Smith, CEO of LLBean, that action by Congress is needed to support “middle class” retailers negatively affected by the coronavirus outbreak? If so, what should this wizard look like? How soon do you expect companies like LLBean to recover when the current situation is over?
“If we let retail fail in the middle, I fear that the impact on employment and thus consumer spending could significantly delay a recovery.”
“If we don’t keep consumers liquid, the recovery will be much more difficult.”
“I have to take a deep breath here. The “middle class” has suffered for a decade or more. The current situation will only exacerbate your problems. “