What about July?
2 Jul 2020
This week: While the U.S. rides a rollercoaster of re-closures – entrepreneurial activity gains ground, and Europe looks to boost homegrown products.
Soaring infections in America have forced recently reopened businesses – from bakeries to salons – to reclose, a pattern that some health experts say might go on for months.
With confusing, and at times conflicting, messages from local and federal authorities – the onus often falls on business owners to enforce safety measures. “Restaurateurs have become de facto public-health officials as Covid-19 cases spike all over the country, and it’s a problem,” reported The New York Times.
• L.A. favorite Hugo’s Tacos – faced with angry, mask-refusing customers – decided to close both their locations, writing: “A mask isn’t symbolic of anything, other than our desire to keep our staff healthy.”
• The people want their dumplings. Bloomberg reported on the remarkable rebound of Chinese restaurants, which are reopening faster than any other category of independent restaurant. Some are also finding that disaster begets solidarity. “We just teamed up with the Senegalese chef Pierre Thiam for a menu mashup. We’re all immigrants, we are all in this together,” said Yong Zhao, co-founder of Junzi Kitchen.
• Although NYC just pressed pause on the planned reintroduction of indoor dining, more than a dozen gutsy new restaurants – from an omakase spot to a Lebanese oyster bar – have actually opened for business in the past three months, in a city and industry transformed.
They’re not alone. Countrywide, applications to form new businesses are growing, with filings in Georgia even up 4% over the same period last year.
“I’ve devoted my career to writing about entrepreneurs … I know they’re a resilient bunch. While Covid-19 is ending many small businesses, it’s already creating scores of new ones,” wrote David Sax in Bloomberg Businessweek. “The silver lining may be the pandemic’s once-in-a-century opportunity to revive U.S. entrepreneurship.”
GET IN THE EUROZONE
As a retail side effect of the crisis – shoppers on the other side of the pond are looking more favourably at homegrown labels available in their own neck of the woods.
‘Europeans Souring on American Brands Over Coronavirus,’ ran a headline in WWD, with 63% of shoppers from France, Italy, Spain, Germany and the UK expecting to “buy more in person from local businesses” post-pandemic.
• Consumer confidence is slowly creeping back in Europe and the UK. Google’s mobility tracker shows that foot traffic to restaurants and retail businesses in countries including Italy and France has also steadily increased. “German consumers opened their wallets like never before in May,” reported The Financial Times – but the country’s restarting has been accompanied by an alarming rise in cases.
• Menswear label Another Aspect reopened their Copenhagen store a few months ago. Founder Daniel Brøndt had this advice: “Collaborate with other shops in your neighbourhood. Try to get their products in your store and your products in their store … it’s all about sharing products and customers.”
• ‘Could the Pandemic Make Retail Stronger?’ wondered The Business of Fashion. “Smaller neighbourhood stores that deliver on convenience and have a local vibe may also offer opportunity for some players, especially as Covid-19 has shrunk the perimeters of daily life and consumers remain hesitant to travel,” wrote Vikram Alexi Kansara.
As impossible as it may seem to attempt to trade in this climate, some business owners are thinking … why wait? “If you have an idea and you believe in it, you should just give it a go,” said Chris Hugo, founder of Hugo Barbers, who is opening a new flagship in London tomorrow – three weeks after spotting the opportunity, and deciding to seize it.
Carpe diem, indeed.
Words by Amy Tai, creative consultant and native New Yorker now based in London.