Chinese retailers resume operations; optimistic on outlook
By Guan Xin

Retail has been among the hardest-hit Chinese sectors by the coronavirus pandemic as most people have stayed at home. But as China gradually contains the infection, most businesses have reopened.

Global market research consultant Nielsen says that despite the losses due to the virus and quarantine measures, it's optimistic about the outlook.

Justin Sargent, president of Nielsen China, told CGTN: "We interviewed 10,000 retailers in the last couple of weeks. The good news is there is a high level of optimism. About half of them were feeling very optimistic. I think a lot of that was driven by the belief that consumers will rebound, The fact is consumers have been at home for 6 or 7 weeks, they have been saving money, when they come out of their homes, the general feeling is that they will spend to treat themselves. The reality also is with the virus overseas, most Chinese consumers choose to stay here in China, so we should see a boost in domestic consumption."

Meanwhile, businesses are actively adapting to the changes caused by the pandemic in innovative ways. According to the Nielsen report, about two-thirds of them said they would be investing more on online channels and applications for their consumer base. Over 50 percent said they would adjust their product mix with more emphasis on health and safety products. And over 40 percent will work on their supply chains.

Consulting Group BCG shared some advice with retailers on how to safely resume business. Firstly, manage their costs, Veronique Yang, managing director and partner of BCG, told CGTN. "See where you need to keep the store open to meet the demand, and where you should close the store. We do also see many retail players actively reach out to their landlord to negotiate the rent. So they can get through the hard times together," Yang said.

Meanwhile, operating stores safely is the top priority. "Very importantly is to secure the supplies, masks, hand sanitizers, all these precaution supplies to employees, also use digital online tools to communicate the latest policy with your employees on daily manners, sometimes even on hourly manners," said Yang.