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Retailers Pivot To Feed And Protect America

This week the impact of shifting consumer spending during COVID-19 resulted in a new wave of massive employee furloughs in non-food retail sectors.  For those retailers still open for business, the employees working on the front line have become increasingly anxious about their own health.  COVID-19 infections on-site have forced closures of some stores and food production facilities raising food supply chain continuity concerns.  In response, we’ve seen another week of quick, innovative actions from the industry focused on new partnerships, offerings and charitable contributions:

  1. Open innovation coalition – started by Rothy’s early this month, this is a group of brands and suppliers working together to help the COVID-19 response. To date, brands like Third Love, Marine Layer and Lucky Brand have been involved to provide the materials and capacity to make protective equipment for front line workers.  Read more about this here.
  2. Partnering up – continuing the trend of retailers that are coming together to help, by the end of last week Crocs, in partnership with Famous Footwear, had donated 240,000 pairs of footwear to healthcare workers.
  3. Direct donations – countless retailers and brands have set up programs to donate a portion of their revenues to worthy causes such as the American Red Cross or local food banks. Dwell published a list of 50 retailers that are giving back.
  4. Individuals stepping up – celebrities have partnered with retailers in creative ways to help the needy. A few examples:
    • Tyler Perry teamed up with Winn Dixie and Kroger to purchase groceries for customers in New Orleans and Atlanta;
    • Brad Paisley and his wife teamed with Belmont University and Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee to open The Store—a free grocery store that delivers in Nashville that serves individuals and families experiencing food insecurity and financial hardship;
    • Actor Ryan Reynolds is donating 30% of online sales of Aviation Gin to the United States Bartenders’ Guild (USBG) to support on-trade members affected by COVID-19.
  5. Customer service for just about anything – Zappos extended its “Delivering Happiness” mission enabling customers to call for service about anything, such as help getting groceries delivered, movie recommendations or whatever is on your mind. The free service is available 24X7!

Stay healthy!  Please send any tactics that should have a spot on our list to

Mara Devitt

Mara Devitt guides retailers, brands and solution providers to identify and execute opportunities to innovate and grow. She has spent over 30 years focused on the direct to consumer segment with extensive experience with complex global clients as well as start-ups.

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