Patagonia ($PRIVATE:PATAGONIA) is slowly getting back to business after halting all retail operations in March due to the Coronavirus outbreak. Last month, the California company started accepting online orders again and utilized “mini-warehouses” with less than 20% of its original workforce.
But a couple of weeks ago, CEO Rose Marcario said Patagonia doesn’t plan on opening locations for in-store shopping until June at the earliest, and is prepared to wait until fall or winter. According to a report in the New York Times, Patagonia’s sales have dropped by 50% in North America. And if the company doesn’t make a quick pivot to digital sales, the loss of foot traffic could come at an even greater cost.
Since the beginning of the year, Patagonia’s job postings have plummeted from 122 to just 9, a 93% drop. Those positions are unlikely to come back any time soon as the company pares down in-store retail operations.
“We’re going to be cautious about the way we open up — we’re not going to necessarily follow what the state decrees are,” Marcario said in an interview. “There are some areas that aren’t as hard hit, but I don’t think you can assume those places won’t see a surge in cases if people stop social-distancing.”
She says “the shape of retail will change” with an emphasis on e-commerce and less focus on “walk-in retail.” The digital push was apparent over the weekend with a highly publicized memorial day sale. Today, Esquire published an endorsement of Patagonia’s “Iconic Retro-X Fleece.”
And it seems to be earning the company a good amount of buzz on social media. This month, Facebook mentions of the outdoor clothing brand were the highest they’ve been in a year, peaking at 48,400. Facebook likes have continued to rise with a spike in April.
Hopefully, Patagonia can turn likes into dollar signs and make up for lost in-store business. Depending on how competitors like Columbia fare as stores start to reopen, Patagonia could lead the shift to retail conducted primarily online.
About the Data:
Thinknum tracks companies using the information they post online - jobs, social and web traffic, product sales, and app ratings - and creates data sets that measure factors like hiring, revenue, and foot traffic. Data sets may not be fully comprehensive (they only account for what is available on the web), but they can be used to gauge performance factors like staffing and sales.