Mid-market retailers are under particularly intense pressure from the COVID-19 outbreak – they lack the resources that large retailers can tap to survive the crisis, and they may not benefit from the same relief available small businesses. This market segment employs 30 million people and is an important part of the larger retail landscape, according to LLBean, and their losses could have a severe impact on the economy as a whole.
“If we let the whole retail community fail, I fear that the ripple effect in terms of employment and therefore consumer spending will significantly delay any recovery,” said Nikki Baird, vice president of the innovation in retail at Aptos in a statement. Retail discussion.
Federal relief is available to small retailers with 500
or fewer employees, in the form of small business loans made available through the recently passed federal stimulus package. However, the regulations exclude most mid-market retailers, a detail LL Bean called on Congress to correct in its future efforts.
“I think it’s a really serious situation, and actually I don’t think it’s getting enough attention,” said Stephen Smith, CEO of LLBean in an interview with CNBC.
While industry experts largely agree with Smith, some have noted that mid-market retailers cannot count on government help. The House and Senate are not expected to meet until April 20, and the large-scale effects of the COVID-19 pandemic could mean targeted help will never emerge.
“Virtually all businesses are affected by the crisis and can advocate for federal government support,” said Mark Ryski, Founder and CEO of HeadCount Corporation in a Retail discussion. “But when you consider the challenges the federal government faces in keeping people alive and fed, looking at the problems of another industry becomes numbing. While I think Mr. Smith brings up some excellent points and concerns, the federal government is so concerned about life-saving efforts, I just don’t think mid-market retailers are going to be high on the list. priorities.