Last year was a challenge like no other for the retail industry. COVID-19 upended people's existence worldwide, threatening human life and undermining the global economy. Job and wage losses took a toll. Even those able to stay healthy and financially secure have faced disruptions to daily life, upsetting work, school and other routines.
All of this has had implications for retailers. Specialized retailers and department stores were forced to close for months while grocers and mass merchants were allowed to stay open as essential businesses. But for all of them, supply and demand were undependable last year. Meanwhile, nervous consumers have expected stores to be clean and safe or to offer e-commerce and pickup services even if they hadn't before.