The Boon and the Bust

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Last year, in my editorial for the 42nd Annual WholeFoods Magazine Retailer Survey, I wrote about the good, the bad, and the opportunity. At the time, we had recently started to report on the impact of novel coronavirus COVID-19, or 2019-nCoV, on the industry, as industry associations including NPA, AHPA, CHPA, CRN, and UNPA were beginning to sound the alarm on supply chain concerns and warnings about product claims. The focus soon turned to the impact at the retail level, and over these last 12 months we’ve been sharing the retail perspective, which has certainly encompassed both the good and the bad, as well as the opportunity.

As part of our 43rd Annual Retailer Survey of U.S. independent natural organic retailers, we invited independents to tell us what has been on their minds, and, of course, COVID-19 remains a prime focus. One independent in Oregon classified the pandemic as both a “boon and a bust,” telling us: “Incredible sales in March due to the panic and then a slow and very concerning slowdown in April and May. A boon with the PPP to help get us through the tough time, but a bust with key employees on ‘furlough’ garnering unemployment benefits—both state and federal—exceeding their usual wages. But we are resilient. We survived and are gaining back our customers and our team. We move forward a bit more streamlined—reduction in hours a bit so we all have down time to rest. In this we all have to rethink, retool, and remain confident that what we do helps our community stay well.”

Similar was echoed by many respondents, and you can hear from them in our 2020 Year in Review: Retailers Weigh In.

Other concerns that were the top-note in past years still linger, and have been amplified by the pandemic. One retailer reported a decline in foot traffic for various reasons, including deep discounts from Amazon, as well as people turning to Instacart. Another told us: “Amazon Prime deep discounts have been the biggest threat to price point integrity that I have seen in my 25 years in this industry! It has sucked all of the profitability out of our business for retailers. Dangerous trend as many brands [are] going direct to consumer and dropping the retailer all together.”

The struggles have been varied and intense, but overall, there is positive news to report in our survey, which you can read here. And an insight from a New York-based retailer: “I believe in the saying every crisis is an opportunity…There are so many small businesses suffering right now, so many people out of work, and the economy is vulnerable. This needs to be a lesson to all, you must be anti-fragile and prepared for anything.”

It is our hope that the information provided in this issue will help you prepare, and be “anti-fragile.” Get the data that can help you fine-tune your own business plan in our 2021 survey, followed by the Retail Insights® 2021 Retail Universe for U.S. Premium Natural, Organic Food, Supplement & Personal Care Sales.

This special coverage takes up 11 pages in print, but that’s just the start of it. The online edition features expanded coverage, including the bottom line on net profits, a breakdown of money invested in advertising and promotions, a closer look at sales by product category, and more. And stay tuned for details of a webinar in the spring. Jay Jacobowitz, President and Founder of Retail Insights, and I will discuss key findings, plus take live questions regarding the survey. Questions can also be emailed to editor@wfcinc.com in advance. We’d love to hear from you.

My thanks to Jay and the team who helped compile this survey. WholeFoods Creative Director Christina Smith designed this special feature, and Associate Editor Julia Peterman proofread to help ensure that all is accurate. I’d also like to thank Nutrasource, our sponsor for this year’s survey and webinar. The data here can be shared with lenders and investors to help raise capital needed for a remodel or expansion, and to map out future plans, making your contribution of great value to everyone in the natural products industry, so a final heartfelt thank you goes to all the independent natural products retailers who took the time to respond. Wishing you all a brighter 2021.

Mastering a Top 2021 Trend: Nutri-Beauty

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Scan this code with your smartphone camera for more on the Naturally Informed event series and to reserve your spot at the free events today.

The nutricosmetics and beauty-from-within market is booming. From a perfect smile and smooth, radiant skin to thick, shiny hair and strong nails, consumers want to look and feel their best. Join us in April for the Naturally Informed virtual event Nutri-Beauty: Mastering the Market, which will bridge the gaps between science and strategy, bringing together world-class research, business intelligence, and regulatory insights to allow suppliers, brands, retailers, practitioners, and other industry players to master the rapidly developing space.

Visit www.NaturallyInformed.net to reserve your spot for all of the 2021 events:
Nutri-Beauty: Mastering the Market on April 21-22
Active Nutrition: Mastering the Market on June 29-30
Healthy Aging: Mastering the Market on September 29-30

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