With the increase in COVID-19 cases in the United States, the path to recovery in the retail landscape may be in motion.

Cases in New York City, a major fashion and tourist destination, have tripled in the past month, the city said. The news comes shortly after the United States opened its borders to international travelers who show full proof of vaccination, a move hailed by many as a way to revive high-density retail centers and flagship stores. of tourists in New York, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Chicago. , and Miami.

For many, recovery seemed to have happened. In November, retail sales increased by 0.2% from October 2021 and 16.1% from November 2020, after months of strong sales in October, September and August. The National Retail Federation predicted that sales through Dec.31 could increase as much as 11.5% year-over-year, setting new vacation spending records.

According to data from the Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY) on Thursday, all signs so far have pointed to positive retail growth in New York. And while foot traffic and sales have yet to reach pre-pandemic levels, demand for commercial space in Manhattan is on the rise, with more tenants accepting longer-term leases.

But a sudden rise could reverse recent positive trends. According to REBNY, progress in Manhattan’s retail markets depends on “clear direction” from management and the “ability to handle the increase in COVID-19 cases.”

“Failure to contain COVID-19 or address these other issues would jeopardize the progress already made, in what has turned out to be a marathon rather than a sprint towards recovery,” the report said.

Earlier this week, New York State Governor Kathy Hochul announced new safety guidelines, which require the wearing of a mask in all indoor public places, unless that location has its own. own vaccine requirements. This requirement, which lasts until January 15, applies to both retail businesses and restaurants.

Outside of New York City, large companies such as Lyft, Uber, Apple and Ford have all announced delays in their plans to return to the office due to the nationwide outbreak. And as Christmas approaches, parties and gatherings are also canceled.

Store closings, which were common throughout 2020, have yet to be a major theme in this outbreak. Apple is the only store to announce closures in Ontario, Maryland and Florida to deal with increasing cases of COVID-19.

Despite the wave, there is hope for the future.

Throughout the pandemic, retailers at all levels have learned to adapt their businesses to maintain their businesses during the pandemic. For example, companies like Caleres and Shoe Carnival have even managed to hit quarterly sales records, despite the accompanying influence of the pandemic.

The key, in many cases, is the ability to adapt and implement an omnichannel strategy.

According to a recent report by foot traffic analyzer Placer.ai, the pandemic has proven that “the brick-and-mortar retail business may in fact be stronger than ever,” despite naysayers saying the future is fully digital.

Retailers will need to adopt an omnichannel strategy going forward to be able to handle any sudden changes in the retail environment, such as store closings or new mandates.

“Rather than portraying online and physical sales as competing in a zero-sum contest, the two channels need to be leveraged together to deliver a better overall customer experience,” the Placer.ai report said.