The holiday season is the time of year when many retail businesses generate most of their revenue and profit. In current business culture, Black Friday has come to mean the time of year when traditional retail businesses — like those that make up the heart of Wenatchee, East Wenatchee, Leavenworth and Chelan — flip from red ink to black ink.
Our media business is closely tied to the retail industry and also performs its best during the fourth quarter.
When COVID-19 shut-downs happened this spring, The Wenatchee World quickly went through a rebudgeting process to reset expectations for the balance of the year. I remember at the time thinking Gov. Jay Inslee took decisive action and mapped out a path of the shut down. Since Wenatchee had a growing and resilient economy, certainly we would “level up” through the phases like a video game. We were conservative with financial expectations, planning some growth in the back third of the year.
As business leaders in NCW now know, there was no “leveling up.” Rather, our counties, despite the efforts of smart, pro-active local leadership, were stuck in a modified Phase 1. We finally moved up to Phase 2 with the rest of the state about a month ago, and now, growing COVID-19 test rates have resulted in renewed restrictions on businesses. Theaters, bowling alleys and gyms were teased into reopening just weeks ago before the latest closures.
Businesses have responded to the unexpected changes as well as they could. Chambers of commerce, business associations and local government agencies have provided support to local businesses in the form of access to funding, information and needed supplies.
The pandemic has not treated people or businesses equally. Some businesses are thriving. These rules created high demand for some goods and services. Other businesses continue to try to adapt while at the mercy of continued changes brought on by the pandemic.
Organizations need to be able to plan and anticipate in order to forecast with some success. These are not hobbies, they are investments — lifetime investments for many. Wall Street roars on, touching record levels while main street’s trillions of dollars in private investments struggle.
Shocks to our business and our psyche can condition our minds to expect bad news. Business people — entrepreneurs — need optimism to fuel growth and success. Expectation of future success is what keeps them going. We all could use some hope right now, though hope alone is not a strategy.
My holiday wish for business leaders is to find the financial strength to press on, whether this comes in the form of grants, investment or changes to your business. Be resilient and support each other. Discover ways to clear your mind of the fear when it creeps in. Look for opportunities and use all the resources at hand. That is what will help all of us remain hopeful again this Christmas season.