Rethinking Your Retail and Restaurant Business Strategy: 3 Important Steps
As the U.S. and other markets around the world move past the first wave of COVID‑19 infections and focus on recovery, it’s clear that customer behavior will continue to evolve. But how? What will “normal” look like? How soon will we get there? What are the implications for a brand’s business strategy?
These unanswered questions lead to a lot of confusion among retail and restaurant leadership teams … and a lot of opinions on the right path forward. How do you bring order to the chaos and design a strategy to compete in the months ahead?
We believe that smart retail and restaurant leadership teams will focus on monitoring changes in three key areas: customers, competitors, and markets.
Americans May Be Ready to Spend But Some Businesses Aren't Ready to Sell.
The coronavirus pandemic has hit hard. More than 100,000 Americans have died. Businesses nationwide shuttered, and more than 44 million people have filed for unemployment insurance since mid-March. The stock market wobbles. However, as the economy reopens, and many Americans benefit from federal assistance, businesses across the country may be in line for a healthy dose of increased consumer spending.
"If jobs are coming back relatively quickly," which the May jobs report indicates, spending should pick up, says Scott R. Baker, an associate professor of finance at Northwestern's Kellogg School of Management. Baker recently co-authored a study for the National Bureau of Economic Research, which found that consumers curtailed spending since March, while incomes remained largely untouched. Baker suspects that consumers largely pushed off purchases because of financial concerns or because the businesses they'd typically patronize weren't open.
This spending hiatus pushed the U.S. savings rate to a record high of 33 percent in April--boosted in part from federal stimulus checks of up to $1,200 per person, depending on income. Americans are notably bad at deferred gratification, a trait that will favor companies that can meet any uptick in demand as the economy continues to reopen.
New research from Black Box Intelligence provides data that answer a lot of questions on consumer spending habits, the return to full service dining, how Texas compares with other states, and so much more. Download their latest report below.
A Second Round of PPP loans for distressed sectors, such as hospitality, restaurants, travel, and tourism. Secretary Mnuchin said another economic stimulus will likely be needed and it should target those industries that are undergoing the most challenges. We’ve lost 3X the number of jobs as any other sector, We continue to struggle with capacity restrictions and lackluster demand for dine-in, and costs are piling up to operate in the COVID-19 era. Think of this as a targeted recovery fund for our sector!
Tax Deductibility of forgiven PPP loan expenses on payroll, rent, mortgage interest, and utilities. The IRS said these expenses, when paid with forgiven PPP loan funds, are not tax deductible. This would leave small businesses with a massive tax liability at a time when liquidity is already extremely challenged. The IRS notice (2020-32) also runs counter to congressional intent behind the CARES Act. Senator Cornyn is sponsoring bipartisan legislation to fix this issue - S. 3612. I know as you are reading this you are thinking “you must be kidding me." I wish! This is why we need to get this bill passed as well. We will have a chat with Cornyn’s team tomorrow to get an update on the bills progress.
MB Permit Fees: Today we reiterated our request to Governor Abbott for a waiver to allow TABC to accept payment plans from restaurants and bars that have been negatively impacted by COVID-19 and need to renew their alcohol license this year. We aren’t asking for a fee waiver, just more time for our restaurants and bars to get back on their feet.
Alcohol To-Go. We also reminded Governor Abbott’s team of our ongoing request to expand the existing alcohol to-go waiver for the duration of the recovery. This is an easy win that would be very helpful to restaurants now. We’re hearing from more and more stakeholders in the alcohol industry who agree it could help everyone, regardless of their place in the three-tiered system. We continue to advocate for the waiver to remain in place for the duration of the recovery and that it be expanded to include:
Retro-fit Restaurants: The reality is most of you are having to make changes to your restaurants to accommodate more to-go, delivery or other opportunities to bring in more revenue. This costs money, along with the cost of sanitation, cleaning and PPE. We are asking Governor Abbott for $390M so we can provide grants to help cover costs like this. We have to get louder here and message why this matters. Please send this link to your friends and post all over social media. I know we need this relief but with so many asking for support, we need to be the loudest industry.
Today included defending our sector from media who want to highlight every restaurant that has a positive COVID-19 case to drive clicks and engagement for their own financial gain. This behavior is beyond unfair and, worse than that, it hurts an industry already brought to its knees and owners and employees who are going above and beyond to keep their guests and each other safe. There is so much pain and fear and to have individuals and companies exploiting that gives me pause to consider if we are all really in this together.
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The House passed bipartisan legislation Thursday to give small businesses more flexibility with the loans they received during the coronavirus pandemic to keep their businesses afloat.
The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Flexibility Act, authored by Rep. Dean Phillips, D-Minn., and Chip Roy, R-Texas, passed with a 417-1 vote and now heads to the Senate.
"Millions of small business owners in this country are one step closer to meaningful relief," Phillips tweeted after the near-unanimous vote. "This is what's possible when leaders listen, act and collaborate.
During the pandemic, Congress allocated $659 billion to small businesses in PPP loans that could be converted to grants if they met certain requirements. The new legislation loosens some of the restrictions on the loans that businesses found too burdensome given that many are still closed or operating at reduced capacity due to prolonged stay-home orders. The legislation extends the time to use the money from eight weeks to 24 weeks. The bill eliminates the cumbersome 75/25 restrictions that forced businesses to spend 75 percent of their loans on payroll and only 25 percent on other operating expenses like rent and utilities. The formula changes to 60/40 percent. For loans that aren't forgiven, businesses would have more time for repayment, from two years to five years.
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