The streets in Rockwell have been turned into street cafes during weekends. After days of lockdown and isolation, the sight of bright lights that bedeck the trees and people enjoying each other’s company are a much welcome sight. They wear masks and are seated with physical distancing. Noisy chatter and cheerful banter can hardly be heard. People are more careful and observe health guidelines. These are of new ways of conducting business—and living life.
We welcome how restaurant owners have adopted new ways of providing a safer place where people can share a meal with friends without much risk of catching infection. The restaurant business is slowly picking up. I feel happy for their employees—the chef, the waiters, the store assistants. It is a happy thought that they are now employed. Employment generates income. Income spurs consumption, and consumption stimulates production of goods and services.
There are many ways through which businesses have adjusted to the pandemic. Stores and groceries have contracted personal shoppers. Customers who are feel insecure with going out can list their preferences on-line or call through the phone. Groceries are personally delivered or are picked up at a designated time and place.
I was surprised that motorcycles instead of cars are now parked at Rockwell. Men and women who deliver food and goods through motorcycles and bicycles have provided us with useful service. Delivery of goods has been quite efficient coupled with courteous service.
We are saddened to hear that long-established stores such as Brooks Brothers closed 41 of its stores and filed for bankruptcy. I read that President John F. Kennedy bought his suits from this store—and so did many Presidents including President Obama. Many other global chains suffered from a similar faith. J. Crew, Neiman Marcus, J.C. Penney, Ann Taylor, and Neiman Marcus filed for bankruptcy. Global luxury sales were badly hit with the absence of social activities. Burberry, Louis Vuitton, and Ralph Lauren reported millions of losses as people realize that life can be simpler and wants are not synonymous with needs.
But fashion entrepreneurs have created new ways of bouncing back through digital strategies. Amazon launched its mobile-only Luxury Stores starting with the brand Oscar de la Renta. Other firms have capitalized on “revenge shopping” in countries like China which have eased travel restrictions. Consumers who have missed shopping due to the lockdown have gone on shopping sprees. The Asian market has become more attractive relative to the West.
Inventory is being managed by selling fashion clothes through discount outlets. Facebook pages are replete with branded clothes and accessories that are selling at huge discounts. Cheap prices are offered for airfare, holidays, and hotel accommodations. These are ways to minimize losses, learning humility, and creating new demands, creating new markets, creating new products, and new ways of doing things.
The pandemic brought an avalanche of fears and frustrations. But the challenges that came brought opportunities as well. We now have to think new, think better, go out of the box, and overcome limitations which we thought we had. Tours of museums are held virtually; and so are concerts, meetings and workshops. We have become more adept in holding interactive discussions where every participant can freely express his/her thoughts just by using the chat box. We now have an opportunity to conduct training with as many teachers, parent and local leaders with the least cost.
It is said that nothing beats a face to face encounter. But it is never impossible to think of creating something equal to it—and who knows— our alternatives may even be better.