CHICAGO — As the coronavirus pandemic proliferates, more information also becomes available for assisting retailers, suppliers and others to formulate strategies to navigate what lies ahead.
- CSP is tracking COVID-19 updates as they relate to convenience retailing. Watch this spot for the latest news, and visit here to see our complete coverage. Join the Coronavirus in the Food & Beverage Industry private Facebook group. And subscribe to the daily COVID-19 newsletter.
Here is a roundup of some additional news, resources and initiatives relevant not only to the c-store and retail fuel industry but also to businesses and the economy in general:
President Donald Trump on March 18 signed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (H.R. 6201) into law. It is intended to provide economic assistance to American businesses, workers and families and alleviate financial burdens experienced by those affected by the virus. The FFCRA:
- Provides free coronavirus diagnostic testing, regardless of economic circumstances or health coverage.
- Establishes tax credits to provide paid sick and family leave for coronavirus-related employment interruptions.
- Ensures that eligible workers who are sick with the virus, quarantined, taking care of someone affected or caring for a child whose school has closed will continue to be paid. Every dollar of required paid leave will be offset by tax credits for eligible employers.
- Protects small businesses by offering an exemption in the event that paid leave requirements would jeopardize their business.
- Incentivizes states to ease access to unemployment benefits.
- Provides funding and flexibility for emergency nutritional aid for senior citizens, women, children and low-income families.
The bill is “phase 2” of legislative efforts to bolster the response, said Politico, and “phase 3,” which is currently estimated to total $1 trillion, will address an economic stimulus package proposed by the U.S. Department of the Treasury, NPR reported.
On March 18, President Trump also invoked the Defense Production Act of 1950, which allows the president to compel industries to sign contracts or fulfill orders deemed necessary for national defense. In the case of the coronavirus pandemic, he can use the act to expedite the production and distribution of medical devices and supplies.
Department of Homeland Security
The Department of Homeland Security's Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) has issued Guidance on the Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce. Among other personnel and locations, it designates as essential:
- Workers supporting groceries, pharmacies and other retail that sells food and beverage products.
- Retail fuel centers such as gas stations and truckstops, and the distribution systems that support them.
- Restaurant carry-out and quick-serve food operations, and carry-out and delivery food employees.
- Employees and firms supporting food, feed and beverage distribution, including warehouse workers, vendor-managed inventory controllers and blockchain managers.
- Workers supporting the sanitation of all food manufacturing processes and operations from wholesale to retail.
- Company cafeterias—in-plant cafeterias used to feed employees.
- Employees of firms providing services that enable logistics operations, including cooling, storing, packaging and distributing products for wholesale or retail sale or use.
National Conference of State Legislatures and National Governors Association
The National Conference of State Legislatures offers COVID-19 resources at the state level, including a detailed list and map of enacted and pending state laws, regulations and actions.
The National Governors Association also has a chart detailing state action on COVID-19.
Travel center operator Pilot Co., as part of its COVID-19 Resource Center, has included a state-by-state list of food and beverage regulations. It details which states, cities and municipalities have closed restaurant and bars for dine-in service.
Nielsen identified 6 consumer behavior thresholds as the coronavirus outbreak evolves that offer signals of spending patterns, particularly for emergency pantry items and health supplies:
- Proactive health-minded buying.
- Reactive health management.
- Pantry preparations.
- Quarantined living preparations.
- Restricted living.
- Living a new normal.
Online loan marketplace LendingTree released a study revealing how Americans are preparing for the coronavirus. It found that 63% of Americans purchased supplies related to the coronavirus outbreak, spending on average $178.44. Millennials spent the most on supplies, at $195.23. Baby boomers spent the least, at $150.88.
The most popular purchases among those who stockpiled include:
- Cleaning supplies: 77%
- Food: 69%
- Paper products, such as toilet paper: 68%
- Water: 62%
- Medication or vitamins: 47%
- Alcohol: 24%
- Entertainment, such as books or movies: 13%
- Office supplies: 6%
McKinsey & Co.
Management consulting firm McKinsey & Co. has published a report, Coronavirus COVID-19: Facts & Insights, detailing the economic challenges of the coronavirus situation and how businesses can respond. It includes scenarios for how the situation could evolve—quick recovery, global slowdown and global recession—with the potential effects of each on the U.S gross domestic product growth in 2020, including supply chain disruptions.
Harvard Business Review
The Harvard Business Review has published a report, What Coronavirus Could Mean for the Global Economy. It spoke to business leaders who asked “whether the market drawdown truly signals a recession, how bad a COVID-19-casued recession would be, what the scenarios are for growth and recovery, and whether there will be any lasting structural impact from the unfolding crisis.”
Jefferies Financial Group
New York-based Investment bank Jefferies Financial Group published Priorities, Strategies and Emotions of Living and Operating in a Pandemic, a letter to its clients from its CEO, Rich Handler, and its president, Brian Friedman, with an eye toward private equity and mergers and acquisitions:
“Capital with reasonable duration will once again be a big winner during this massive dislocation. There is an enormous amount of dry powder in private equity funds, historically patient distressed funds, pensions, endowments and other large pockets of permanent capital. This capital will slowly be deployed and will be part of the solution for the path to our new future. There are a large number of extremely healthy companies that will be in a position to also take strategic advantage of this extreme dislocation. Not every company is in this enviable position and one never wants to delude themselves that you are ‘bulletproof’ when you are not. If in doubt, you are not.”