it is certainly more enjoyable to read about history than to live through it.
Yesterday, the theatres in New York City went dark, the NCAA canceled March Madness, and all major professional sports leagues shut down. All this, while schools closed, churches were asked to cancel services, and the stock market plummeted.
It was astonishing to see the tipping point take place over the course of a few hours. At 11:30 yesterday, I slipped out to the grocery store only to find business as usual. At 4:30, when my life partner went out to buy groceries, she faced lines so long that they were in the shape of a “W.”
Yesterday was a day that will be written about in history books. I have to say, however, that it is certainly more enjoyable to read about history than to live through it. When we read a history book, we are presented with closure. When we live through history, we experience the uncertainty of how and when things will work out.
We in the global toy industry are undergoing convulsions in our supply chain. The virus is striking different parts of the world at different, disjointed times. China was hit first and is getting back on its feet. Unfortunately, just as China is beginning to ramp up production, the consumption parts of the toy market (primarily Europe and North America) are increasingly slowing down.
In this type of environment,it is challenging to know what actions to take. I think it is essential to take a long view. Business will eventually get back to normal, in weeks or months. People will consume and factories will produce. The challenge is, therefore, to have a strategy for surviving short term and a vision for prospering long term.
Here are some suggestions for successfully rafting through the current economic white water:
- Keep in close and constant communication with suppliers and customers. Know inventory conditions, not for just for your own business but for those who supply and purchase from you.
- Don’t wait for the federal government to provide a solution but plan for how your business is going to make ends meet while cash flow is limited.
- Keep a close eye on what movies, games, toys, and other entertainment properties and play products are going to be delayed.
- Ask creditors for help. It is, ultimately, in their best interest to keep you healthy.
- Look for opportunities. Are games going to be in demand (primarily through e-commerce providers) for families that want to avoid cabin fever?
- Are toys going to look appealing to parents who wish to keep their children entertained?
Despite these words of concern and caution, I feel realistically optimistic. The virus has begun to subside in China and Korea, and, with the actions that state and local governments, as well as private citizens, are taking, we should hopefully find the same hopeful ending to our moment in history hopefully sooner than later.