In March of 2020, the United States made the decision to shut down every state. The COVID-19 virus was spreading fast and businesses and schools had to close. This virus exposed the issue in the way Americans work during the digital age. Over the course of three months, small and big business owners struggled to keep their brick & mortar shops open. Many struggled to the point of closure. Having the ability to work and shop online, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, has become increasingly convenient, even if that means waiting a few days for delivery. Businesses were forced to adapt in order to make some income.
Restaurants are probably the best example in terms of the need to adapt. Sit-down restaurants that never allowed online orders or delivery, had to make the space to do just that during the pandemic, but some businesses were unable to adapt.
The New York City card shop, EJ Cards and Gifts has been around for 40 years and they were closed due to the pandemic. This card business relies heavily on holiday sales that were missed during the pandemic such as Easter, Mother’s Day, and graduations.
The owners of mom & pop store, Valerie and Alan Wornian, filed a petition to be an “essential business” offering masks, hand sanitizer, and bandanas but were denied. The shop has since reopened, but during the pandemic, like many other businesses they struggled to pay rent or their vendors without income.
The pandemic also exposed that many major companies were struggling and had to file for bankruptcy as well. J. Crew became the first major US retailer to file on May 4th while many others followed. The pandemic didn’t only affect retailers, but oil, gyms, car rental companies, and more.
As more businesses continued to close and online shopping increased during the COVID-19 pandemic, major e-commerce website, Amazon, had a different issue; there was an increase in demand. In March 2020, website traffic saw a 65 percent increase from the following year with 2.54 billion visitors. As people overwhelmed the site buying out essential items such as face masks, gloves, and toilet paper, Amazon began to prioritize essential items at the warehouse and paused the shipments of non-essential items for a month.
Having an online presence during the pandemic needed to be the priority for every business. Even for major retailers like Macy’s announced the closure of 128 locations. Although Macy’s has a shopping website, the company relied heavily on the foot traffic of malls to sustain itself which were left abandoned during the pandemic. Even without the help of the shutdown, malls are continuing to become obsolete and store turnover is increasing. During a time like this, companies realized the flaws of their business, and have had to find ways to reinvent what they were. For example, Macy’s is experimenting with opening smaller stores hoping to appeal to those who still enjoy the in-store experience while continuing to sell online.