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Strategic responses to the pandemic: a case study of the US department store industry

Ruifeng Wang (Robert H. Smith School of Business, University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland, USA)
Martin Dresner (Robert H. Smith School of Business, University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland, USA)
Xiaodan Pan (John Molson School of Business, Concordia University, Montreal, Canada)

International Journal of Physical Distribution & Logistics Management

ISSN: 0960-0035

Article publication date: 22 December 2022

58

Abstract

Purpose

The study focuses on (1) the success of three strategies employed during the pandemic – two “persevering” strategies, curbside pickup and return window extension and one innovative strategy, virtual try-on technology and (2) whether the strategies are likely to be successful in the post-pandemic world.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors utilize a panel dataset containing 17 department store chains in the US The panel includes weekly sales by the retailers at the city level from 2018 to 2021, encompassing both a pre-COVID-19 period and a period during the pandemic. A two-way fixed effects model, including retailer-city fixed effects and year-week fixed effects, is used to estimate department store sales.

Findings

The authors find that the two persevering strategies offset the negative impact of government-imposed containment and health measures on sales performance. On the other hand, the innovative strategy is more effective with a low level of containment and health measures, leading to our observation that virtual try-on may be more sustainable than the other two strategies in a post-pandemic environment.

Originality/value

This paper makes the following contributions: First, the authors contribute to the literature on strategies that may be used to respond to crises. Second, the authors contribute to the retail management literature, assessing the impact of the three retail strategies on department store sales. Finally, the authors compare the impact on sales of the two persevering strategies to the innovative strategy and conclude that a mix of these types of strategies may be most effective at generating short-term sales during a crisis and longer-term sales post crisis.

Keywords

Citation

Wang, R., Dresner, M. and Pan, X. (2022), "Strategic responses to the pandemic: a case study of the US department store industry", International Journal of Physical Distribution & Logistics Management, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJPDLM-04-2022-0132

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2022, Emerald Publishing Limited

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