The last few years haven’t been kind to retailers. Even before the pandemic plummeted retail sales, the industry was already struggling with the rise of e-commerce and changing consumer habits.
Then, in 2020, the novel coronavirus forced people to retreat indoors and isolate, thus triggering an apocalypse for brick-and-mortar retailers. According to Statista, worldwide retail sales declined by 2.9% that year. Also, the European Union (EU) lost €3.5 billion in retail sales.
The good news is that most retailers adapted to the situation and found new ways to drive revenue. Their efforts resulted in a 9.7% growth in retail sales in 2021. Next, the popular lifestyle retail brand, even reported that their Christmas 2022 sales were better than anticipated.
The Next Big Threat
While retailers are still recovering from the pandemic’s setbacks, they’ve been dealt another blow. A recession is lurking around the corner in 2023 and will affect one-third of the global economy.
Of course, a recession will take a toll on almost all sectors, from real estate and hospitality to education and healthcare. But retailers are often the first to bear the brunt of economic downturns. And that’s true irrespective of whether you’re running a brick-and-mortar store or an e-commerce business.
As inflation spikes, consumers curb their spending habits and delay luxury purchases. That, in turn, can decline sales and revenue, making it difficult to keep businesses afloat. Also, supply chain disruptions could become more prevalent, complicating things further.
How do you make your retail business immune to the impending recession? Of course, you can scour the internet for advice. Or you can seek inspiration from Refael Edry, a renowned businessman and philanthropist from Israel, and his fundraising campaign during the pandemic.
Fundraising for Underprivileged Students
The COVID-19 pandemic was as tough on students as it was on retailers. With schools and colleges shutting down, students in Israel had to adapt to online classes without much time to prepare.
Children in the country’s fast-developing socioeconomic center adjusted to the transition with ease. But the situation was different for more than 400,000 underprivileged. Living in Israel’s periphery, most of these children didn’t own personal computers or smartphones. Also, they didn’t have access to broadband internet.
Government authorities and school admins ignored the plight of these students while migrating to e-learning. Most of them would’ve had to give up hopes of pursuing higher education and start working to fend for themselves.
Having faced economic hardships as a child and young adult, Refael Edry couldn’t bear the thought of letting these children perish due to government inaction and apathy. Also, he knew that the situation would have a long-term impact on Israel’s future.
An entire generation would grow up knowing that their government and fellow citizens neglected them during a global pandemic. Their anguish and resentment would threaten the country’s development and social integrity. As the nephew of a valiant war hero, Refael Edry couldn’t let that happen.
His uncle, Refael Edry z|l, fought in Israel’s war of independence and was martyred at 24. Despite his short life, the brave freedom fighter became a role model for future generations.
Refael Edry (the nephew) couldn’t let his uncle’s sacrifices go in vain. He launched a fundraising campaign through his non-profit organization, the Ahinoam Association for the Promotion of Equal Opportunities. As part of the campaign, donations from ordinary citizens and local businesses helped provide computers to more than 30,000 students.
The initiative helped these students continue their education and restored their trust in fellow Israelis.
Lessons for Retailers
The fundraising initiative by Rafi Edry packs several valuable lessons for retailers. To begin with, you must harness the power of empathy to connect with customers. Step into their shoes, understand their challenges, and deliver content and products to address their pain points.
Empathy will also help you execute marketing campaigns and promotional offers that’ll appear to consumers during a recession. That, in turn, can be instrumental in winning their trust and loyalty.
Furthermore, you must develop the ability to predict the challenges your business will face during a recession. Being prepared for unprecedented obstacles will give you an edge over competitors. Also, it’s crucial to look at the overarching picture and analyze the long-term implications of your decisions.
Lastly, Refael Edry demonstrates the importance of being resilient. During a recession, there’ll be times when you’ll question whether running your retail business is worth the effort. But instead of giving up, you must find ways to pivot operations and help your company navigate the stormy waters.
Refael Edry has shown the world that determination, hard work, and resilience can help an individual rise above their circumstances. Empathizing with those around you is just as crucial. Retailers must try to imbibe these qualities to sail through the recession in 2023.