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12/30/2020

What happens if the pandemic slows?

Seth Mendelson
Publisher and Editor in Chief
Seth Mendelson profile picture

Is the first three or four weeks of the new year the bridge to somewhere or nowhere?

We will find out soon enough and it all depends on a few very important factors, perhaps the most vital being when a vaccine to stop COVID-19 will hit the market and whether it will work well enough to end this terrible pandemic. 

What has become frighteningly clear to all of us is that without a reliable vaccine there is little chance that we can return to any state of normalcy any time soon. Even if transmission rates start to slow in the near future — and that is a big if — many consumers are simply too concerned and worried to return to regular shopping patterns. 

And, while many private label products have done reasonably well during the pandemic, most industry observers say that a return to the pre-pandemic “good old days” is better for all of retail, including private label and store brands products. 

But, even if the vaccines work, it is going to take time to get people healthy and regain their trust. That means that the next few weeks, perhaps through the end of January, are extremely crucial to maintaining a sound and proper business strategy to get through the pandemic and to get us ready for what should be strong pent-up demand for products and services afterwards. 

I have no doubt that private label is going to play a big role throughout this process. Right now, retailers are counting on their private label suppliers to ensure that they have enough product on store shelves to meet demand. Later, they will count on these same vendors to help them offer their customers a broad range of products at varying price points to meet their budgets. 

That means that it is maybe a great time to sharpen your pencils and start planning for the future. It may be also the right time to start considering participating in the digital PLMA week, PLMA Live!, which starts on Feb. 1, as a way to start renewing ties with the retailers and suppliers that we have counted on for all these years. 

The pandemic will come to an end at some point. The questions you have to ask yourself are whether you can survive until then — what you are going to do once it does end?

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