Four days after its second annual RIA Kick Show was canceled, the Running Industry Association (RIA) has come out with a COVID-19 prep guide for the run specialty community to basically survive the coronavirus. And Terry Schalow, executive director of the RIA, said the organization has much more coming as the close-knit run specialty community has quickly come together.
On Tuesday, Schalow told SGB Executive that the RIA would be sending out a national survey to some 500 retailers across the run specialty channel to explore how they’re managing amid the crisis. He noted there’s been some word of stores already being forced to undergo layoffs or to furlough employees. In some cases, store owners have reached into their savings to continue to pay staff, but the survey seeks to gain better data for the industry to make appropriate decisions.
“It’s heartbreaking that you have these store owners that have built up these incredible businesses and feel they have been incredibly loyal to the people working for them,” said Schalow. “And when they’re having to furlough or lay-off employees who have families, or you see an owner drawing from their own savings to be able to continue to pay their employees while their stores are closed, these people are losing everything. In the end, it’s absolutely heartbreaking.”
The retailer survey seeks to see how many stores have been closed. It also explores how many retailers have been able to keep their staff employed and how long they can continue to do so. Schalow said, “In other words, if this continues, how long can they hold out before they might get to a point where they have to shutter permanently. These are things that we just don’t know, collectively.”
The short survey will also explore what stores are doing specifically to try to keep sales going. The COVID-19 prep guide includes some suggestions to drive e-commerce solutions amid store closures and calls for social distancing.
Borrowing from the restaurant industry, Schalow said some stores are rolling out curbside pickup as part of a bigger push around online delivery. Said Schalow, “We’re seeing those strategies being employed, and we hope that those gain momentum. We’re trying to provide a lot of resources, and point retailers who are not familiar with those platforms, in the direction that can help retailers get up to speed quickly.”