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Initially, COVID-19 was widely predicted to have a devastating effect on many retailers. Instead, retail collapses hit record lows as government initiatives (such as JobKeeper and the temporary suspension of insolvent trading laws) protected retailers. Consumers hoarded cash and retailers pivoted to online, driving some to produce financial results way beyond expectations.

It’s not all doom and gloom. The development of a COVID-19 vaccine provides a real reason for optimism, but it is important to understand that 2021 (and possibly beyond) will be all about the art of retailing against a lack of reasonable comparable sales while vaccine distribution ramps up and supply chains are reconfigured.

We believe that 2021 may be the year that challenges retailers even more as we cope with reduction of stimuli and return to some form of business as usual. COVID-19 has accelerated digital disruption and consumers are living, thinking and purchasing differently. Retailers are placing their bets around what will stick versus what has been a glitch.

The webinar was hosted by KPMG’s retail leaders Carly Richards, Matt Darby, James Stewart and were joined by special guest Andre Reich. Andre is the Chief Executive Officer for The Reject Shop, an Australia discount variety store chain. Andre joined The Reject Shop in January 2020 to implement his three-phase ‘fix, reset and grow’ turnaround strategy. The Reject Shop has been delivering value to shoppers for almost 40 years by helping all Australians save money on everyday items across 350 store locations nationwide.

Key takeaways

  • Retail sales grew 6 percent year-on-year in 2020, but it was a tale of two speeds as some categories soared and others felt the full force of COVID-19.
  • Government stimulus will run off in the middle of this year and retailers will need to adjust to the ‘new normal’.
  • Online retail will continue to accelerate, 8.9+ million households shopped online last year and we expect rapid growth to continue in 2021.
  • Retailers need to increase their risk appetite to identify opportunities for growth, productivity improvements and unlock new technology capabilities.
  • 2021 and beyond will be all about range rationalisation, enhancing customer experience and investing in digital infrastructure to drive performance improvements.


The webinar recording below discusses how retail is adapting to the current environment and how The Reject Shop has a three phase strategic plan guiding the entire business through the phases of Fix, Reset & Grow.

Watch the webinar recording

For more information on the Future of Retail – where the shift from from retailing to consumer commerce is picking up speed – we explain why the market is changing. We describe what the winning business models of the future will look like. And we explore how you can achieve this transformation, outlining the key capabilities and strategies you will need to move your organisation into the future.

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