Blog Post N°7 - The Covid Effect
So, at the time of starting this blog post, we are in what James and I call "Lockdown 3.0 lite". Essentially, people are still going to work in many cases. It doesn't seem as bad as the original lockdown when Covid first hit in March 2020, and it's not as strict as it was after Christmas (or is it the same?). Regardless, we figured that as covid rolls on and on and on, we thought it would be a good idea to come out with a blog talking about how it has effected the business and the changes we've made to try to adapt to it. Covid has been an absolute terror for countless small businesses and Mars is no exception. We have definitely had a significant decrease in sales due to a lack of foot traffic and people becoming less likely to spend money on clothes because there's no events or reasons to go out with everything being closed.
Covid has, for the most part, forced businesses to try and thrive with online-only operations. Many places, such as Mars, have been open when possible but over the past year have spent more time closed to the public than open. This has encouraged businesses to improve their online presence, whether it be through social media posts or building/improving their website. For some, this hasn't been too problematic. Many businesses can still perform well enough without their physical space. Although people will purchase clothes online, more often than not you want to try things on. Trying on clothes is a big part of the shopping experience for one thing, but it's also important in order to understand sizing and fit. Losing the customers who are just passing by the store and stop in is bad for businesses, but it also takes away from us the best aspect of our job and that is interacting with the people. Many people can relate to missing the interactions with others in daily life. Whether it's interactions with people at work, friends or customers in our case, it's something that we've come to expect and enjoy in life and that's a big part of what's making covid such a difficult time beyond the decline in sales.
So what have we been doing to try and offset the difference in lost in-person sales due to covid? Well, we have to try to increase the brand exposure and do more to advertise the products past who we can reach through Facebook and Instagram advertisements. To do this, we have started streaming internationally, thus reaching people from all over the world and getting the name of Mars Clothing out there more and more on a daily basis. The international streams have given us another avenue to get the products out and advertised, and increased online sales to some extent. Through these streams, we've also been able to develop a community of people who consistently tune in and that has also helped us with the loss of interaction from our regular community in town. Obviously, having the interactions in person can not be totally replaced by things online, but it's the closest thing to real personal interactions that we can have in the work place currently. Although we are not nearly able to make up for the in store activity and conversations we would normally have, the international streams have given us an avenue to interact and bring the store worldwide.
Aside from business and human interaction, covid has had some other adverse affects that I personally was not expecting for myself. I personally have recently realized a need to take 'mental health days'. This is something I never thought I would have to do, but I've been finding that I've had a lack of motivation and desire to be productive. Taking these mental health days has allowed me to have a day to myself to get things done around the house and recharge myself. A mental health day for me is essentially just spending a day alone doing whatever I feel like I want to do in order to be more motivated, productive and happy for the rest of the week. Covid has absolutely taken a toll on my mental and physical health more than I thought it possibly could've when it started, but I'm thankful to be in a supportive workplace where I have the freedom to take days to myself if needed.
Mars is now closed Sunday and Monday because James feels "taking the two days off in a row was better for giving ourselves a break when business is slower and we don't need to be here so much. People will say 'finally he's taking a break!' but when you do what you love it's not work." He misses the every day interactions with real people that he always used to have here. There were so many awesome people on a daily basis with great stories and conversation and that's gone for now. He also says that streaming every day has been a blessing for his mental health because it is the best way to keep up with the interactions that he craves. James says "streaming internationally has been the best thing to come out of these lockdowns. It has not only helped me get more comfortable in front of a camera for future videos we create, but it has also helped us expand the Mars brand to people who we may not have otherwise reached."
Thanks to everyone for checking out this blog post, and we look forward to the times when we can have our friends and customers back in store for real conversation. Those days will come, but for now we just have to try and remain positive and keep on keeping on. Stay healthy and stay safe everyone!