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Thoughts on retail, re-opening and work-at-home benefits

Furniture stores are reopening around the country, joining some that never closed except where legally required.

My feedback so far, including from my nephew David who runs a store in Tennessee, is that traffic is less than overwhelming, but those who are taking the time and effort to shop are BUYING, and isn’t that what is important?

While our media tend to swamp us with tales of woe, truthfully, there is a universe of people who are doing well financially. Those who live “check to check” are being supported by the extra government funding, and some are making more weekly on unemployment than they did working.

The essential workers are staying busy, with our thanks, and many are receiving the government’s extra check. There is a large universe of relocated workers, including professionals, who cannot work in their offices but are working from home and know they are not at risk of being furloughed.

The universe of people dependent upon government assistance before the pandemic will remain on it throughout and after the pandemic. The pandemic will not likely improve their station in life.

One point made often is that the home is increasing in importance. There is no doubt.

Some companies are saying they may not want all their workers to return to the office building downtown. The employer saves rent and other costs. The employee saves the cost of transportation, apparel and other expenses, while improving their safely and the environment.

Cities and states are recognizing how fast the air quality has improved with fewer vehicles on the road and less planes in the air.

Can you imagine the impact to our businesses if this pandemic hit before we had computers and smart phones? We are blessed to have the technology we have today. Of course, that relates to all our healthcare services and our communications, too.

I am hoping that our economy will show an ability to rev up about the time our young people return to school and college. That is a key time and important to most retailers.

For me, I am enjoying this time with my wife in our condo looking out over a very quiet city of Richmond. Yesterday, we had an Air Force flyover at Richmond and Williamsburg to honor our healthcare workers. Don’t tell anyone, but I could get used to sleeping late.

W.W. “Jerry” Epperson, Jr. is a founder and managing director of Mann, Armistead & Epperson, Ltd., an investment banking and research firm. Epperson is the head of their research efforts and has in excess of 30 years of experience in the publication of hard/soft dollar research, which focuses on demographics, consumer products, furnishings (residential and contract) and related issues. More specifically, Epperson’s research in the furnishings industry is recognized on a worldwide basis for its in-depth coverage of suppliers, manufacturers and retailers.

About Jerry Epperson