While the scale and scope of this global epidemic remain unclear, 2020 will undoubtedly be reshaped as a result of the coronavirus outbreak. How should retailers and suppliers adjust their 2020 plans to account for disruptions in travel, consumption, and supply? We created an insights-rich toolkit to help you cope with uncertainties, find stability amid rapid change, and prepare for the future.

Join Kantar’s experts for the weekly webinar series The Impact of COVID-19 on the Retail Landscape to unpack timely updates and implications. Register here

Retail Landscape Assessment

From supply chain disruptions   to economic swings,  Kantar’s experts will help address your most pressing issues today while keeping you on the right path for tomorrow.

COVID-19’s global spread has polarized shoppers’ retail activity. On one end, shoppers have stopped going to once-crowded places like malls, department stores, and movie theaters as they engage in social distancing to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus. At the other end, many shoppers are stocking up on food and household essentials in case they have to go into quarantine or self-isolation. The result? Retailers that focus on apparel, big-ticket, and discretionary goods are becoming ghost towns while those that focus on food and consumables are booming. How can retailers and suppliers adapt to the new realities  of commerce?

The agility of retail suppliers allowed retailers to readjust internal capacity to support growing demands during the COVID-19 storm. As the disruption continues, retailer choice metrics are being augmented by shifting shopper demands .

Beyond providing just goods and services, retailers are now positioned to offer trust, reliability, and community:


As most shoppers struggle to meet their basic needs, they are hedging their bets as to which retailer is most likely to have key necessities in stock. Retailers exceed their basic price, quality, and availability commitments in this chaotic time to build and retain shopper trust. By developing transparent and consistent messaging and protocols, they can differentiate their offering.


During these times of extreme uncertainty, retailers can be a beacon of hope simply by continuing to operate and open their doors. Retailers that quickly make adjustments so they can deliver for shoppers during the crisis will benefit not only themselves, but shoppers as well.


In this time of turmoil and uncertainty, retailers are aligning themselves more closely with their shoppers  by identifying a shared purpose and acknowledging the need for a strong community response to the virus. Retailers making these higher-level communal connections will likely foster shopper loyalty that extends beyond the COVID-19 crisis.’


Additional resources:

March 25 | Webinar: Pandemics, politics & business 

March 18 | COVID-19 and the retail landscape: Stay calm and take action

March 12 | Podcast: Macroeconomic and Supply Chain Implications of COVID-19

Channel and Country Spotlights


As we work to adapt to the new realities of commerce, it’s helpful to translate learnings from countries that are further along in their recovery. The monthly China digital newsletter and the O2O channel report  offer great insight into China’s recovery efforts and how the retail landscape has been forever altered.


Italy is roughly three weeks further ahead in COVID-19’s progress than the US and UK. What can we learn from their shoppers, their supply chain struggles, and their retailer outreach? The Retail learnings from the COVID-19 outbreak in Italy  report explores Italian consumer’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak and offers insights for other markets and channel.


A lot has changed in Canada over the last three weeks . The Canadian economy was showing signs of softening at the end of 2019, which was further aggravated by various disruptions: the Canadian National rail strike, plummeting oil and energy prices, and international supply chain interruptions. Nevertheless, Canadians felt confident about overall economic prospects as they thought these disruptions were temporary. An improving housing market also added to their optimism. New shopping trends are emerging  as Canadians try to cope with COVID-19: hoarding essentials, online surge, price insensitivity, and rationing

Additional resources:

March 26 | European COVID-19 retail impact series 

March 18 | COVID-19 and the retail landscape: Stay calm and take action

March 12 | Podcast: Macroeconomic and Supply Chain Implications of COVID-19

March 25 | COVID-19 and its impact on Russia’s #1 retailer 

March 18 | Update on COVID-19 and Russian retail 

March 4 | Infographic: Consumer impact in the SEA region 

Feb. 27 | Video: Accessing the impact of COVID in China

Feb. 26 | Impact on China: industry, economy, and retail view 

Apparel channel

The retailers taking the initial sucker punch from the effects of COVID-19 are those largely based in the mall. With shoppers warned, and in some states forbidden, to gather in large numbers, malls are mostly empty regardless of whether the stores are open. More than 30,000 stores from the most prominent chains have closed across the US, on top of the forced closure in several states and shutdown of Simon Property’s entire mall fleet. This is having an outsized impact on department stores as well as other discretionary retailers that rely on in-store sales, consumer confidence, and low unemployment to drive growth.

With most high street retailers in the UK switching to online channels wherever possible, it became clear very quickly that these networks are self-limiting in many ways. Multichannel retailers are simply not set up to conduct all their sales online. What are fashion retailers doing to remedy? As these retailers switch category focus, and slash costs, fashion strategies will fall into four primary buckets 

Convenience and Discounter

With 35,000 retail stores closed in the US and grocery chains stressed, convenience is the only consistent  for many shoppers. Conoravirus uncertainty requires us to adapt our medium-term channel plans  for the discounter and convenience channels. There are three key considerations to factor in:


COVID-19 has triggered price increases across European pharmacies  and forced consumers to re-evaluate their spending. They will develop new dependencies on any products associated with easing anxiety during this crisis. As a result, the messaging around health and wellness claims must include both preventive and mental health benefits to make a lasting impression on shoppers’ buying habits post-COVID-19.

US shopper attitudes will continue to shift  from sick care (seeking remedies for illness) to self-care (taking measures to prevent illness) to well care (investing in themselves for the greater good). That change will manifest itself in a new set of purchasing behaviors.


With much of Europe and North America now in lockdown, online shopping has become the preferred way to buy necessities and, indeed, comforts. With most retailers closing stores temporarily, we’re likely to see a huge shift to online shopping in many retail sectors. Although ecommerce will certainly see a spike  during these unpredictable times, brands will have to adapt and be flexible to meet changing needs and shopping habits. In the UK, the crisis has inspired new thinking around brand accessibility.  With unprecedented pressures on online fulfilment, and consumers leveraging multiple channels and alternative models to obtain what they need, retailers and brands are seeking new ways to reach consumers.

Amazon, with its global network and “unlimited store” capabilities is now reaping the rewards of being the “everything store” and a single retail platform where consumers can shop  a wide range of categories and solutions. It’s too early to see the uplift data for shopping on Amazon, but reports from the retailer itself tell a sure story of consumer demand — so much so that it is now seeking to prioritize certain categories for purchase.

Additional resources:

May 19 | COVID-19 and retail technology innovation: Personal protection

April 1 | Alternative routes to consumer during COVID-19: B2B to B2C 

March 27 | COVID-19 to reset ecommerce landscape in the Middle East


Kantar’s latest grocery market figures show year-over-year UK supermarket sales grew by the fastest rate in over a decade during the past 12 weeks, increasing 7.6%. March was the biggest month of grocery sales ever recorded, with sales soaring 20.6% year over year due to people shopping more frequently  and buying slightly more on each trip. This amplifies the pressure to keep shops staffed, shelves stocked, and the nation fed.

As shopping continues to show a significant shift from offline to online , last-mile delivery providers are seeing hug growth:

Additional resources:

April 24 | Hidden gems of the grocery channel: COVID-19 edition

April 16 | Regional grocery power players’ response to COVID-19

April 10 | The big three grocers’ response to COVID-19

March 30 | Food supply lines

March 25 | Podcast: What is the impact of COVID-19 on grocery and retail

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Our team is here to help you navigate this tumultuous time in retail. We will be weaving COVID-19 updates, insights, and implications into all our thinking for the foreseeable future. Please contact us for custom solutions and support.

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