Coronavirus Locked and loaded
At this time of heightened awareness of illness and immunity, Clicks has seen a fourfold increase in demand for flu vaccinations at its clinics around the country, leading the business to stock up on vaccines, train an additional 200 pharmacists to administer them, and provide dedicated nursing staff at the busier stores. Rival Dis-Chem, in the meantime, has partially withheld rental to some of the country’s major property owners including Resilient, Hyprop, and Liberty Two Degrees, on the grounds that despite continuing to trade as an essential service its turnover has been impacted by the lockdown. Pick n Pay, which has closed one store in the Western Cape after a staffer tested positive for COVID-19, has joined Shoprite – a day later, but hey – in offering payment via QR to shoppers, see Shoprite story below. Massmart appear to be enjoying some competitive advantage relative to other purveyors of white goods, selling some essential appliances like kettles, gas stoves and two-ring cookers while holding back on less essential items, categories also sold by the likes of Checkers, but leaving non-essential businesses like Hirsch scratching their heads as to the fairness of it all. Woolies, in the meantime, have sadly let it be known that they expect profit for the 52 weeks through June to decline by as much as -20%, driven thither by a loss of sales from the corona crisis.
Comment: A new competitive landscape, certainly, with uncharted moral and commercial pitfalls. But also areas of legitimate and ethical opportunity.