As the coronavirus pandemic has impacted every business, most of them are finding it hard to sell their products. The retail outlets remain closed in most parts of the country and even those that are open are not doing good business to sustain the momentum. Apart from that, the lockdown imposed for a long duration meant that the production came to a halt and it was difficult to bridge that gap when the markets reopened in recent weeks. Not stopping at that, most companies also faced logistics problems as they could not move goods freely from one state to another.
However, even during these trying times, QVC and HSN have performed well since mid-March when the pandemic first started shutting down businesses across the country. Their online traffic increased 36% in recent months and even revenues were up nearly 10% in this duration. At this juncture, only big retail outlets like Walmart and Target are doing brisk business and most other retail outlets are not open to their full capacity. This has forced many people to buy from home and this is where QVC and HSN seem to have benefited a lot from the pandemic.
Qurate Retail which is the parent company added nearly 2 million new customers that indicate the trend in the market. Their eCommerce revenue rose 19% to about $2.2 billion and this is a fantastic performance considering the economic turmoil with the rest of the market.
Qurate CEO Mike George says that they experienced a dull start at the beginning of the pandemic and things started changing in a different direction in the month of April. They noticed a significant change in customer behavior and more people were inclined towards food products and cooking during the pandemic.
As the pandemic forced people to stay home and cook food, the demand for cooking utensils, sanitizers, and gourmet food increased a lot. On the other hand, demand for apparel and footwear reduced a lot as people were not stepping out of home in the early days of the pandemic. All these things meant that QVC and HSN got good viewership from people sitting at home during the pandemic. This was confirmed with the television ratings as most increases in viewership was during day hours.
Diana Fandl aged 73 from Allentown, Pennsylvania is a long time viewer of such channels and she says that she bought a prime pork rib-eye, hamburgers, and chicken breast from Rastelli which is a top home shopping performer during this season. As the grocery stores were not carrying many items due to a shortage of supply during the initial days of the pandemic, most people started ordering food products online. This was also essential for the elderly people as most of them did not want to step out of the home during the pandemic due to the risk of being exposed to the virus.
Acclaimed chef Curtis Stone also confirms the trend saying that he noticed a greater interest in home meals in that situation and his meat lines and cookware products helped in propelling the sales of HSN. He added that most people started caring about what kind of food they were eating at home and they wanted to do more cooking at home during that pandemic phase. This increased the sales of many gadgets and cookware and bread makers sold like hot cakes during the season.
The trend kept changing throughout the recent months and sales of consumer electronics, gardening, and cooking products increased a lot in the early stages of the pandemic. During the same period, the sales of jewelry and fashion accessories reduced a lot as people were not active in social gatherings.
As most companies shut down offices due to the lockdown imposed across many states, people were forced to work from home. This led to an increase in sales of printers and other home office equipment. In the same way, many people interested in home decor found an opportunity to work on such hobbies during the lockdown. As kids stayed home and away from school, the sales of gaming devices improved a lot during this period.
During this period, many people became health conscious as the number of coronavirus cases increased on a daily basis all over the country. Due to these reasons, the sales of sophisticated air purifiers and Vitamix blenders improved a lot. This helped the companies to offset the losses from lack of jewelry and other high-end item sales. QVC also promoted such products aggressively and Jennifer Coffey was recently seen explaining the benefits of using an air purifier to kill germs. The show Bright Ideas with Jennifer also featured another host Sarah Cotellese who continued to promote UV cellphone charger and sanitizer.
She went on to explain that such things are the need of the hour and many people are vacuuming more and using the air purifiers more than before. Most people are now aware of the germs on cell phones and they are using sanitizers to clean them on a regular basis. Even beauty products were able to keep their sales trend high as most women preferred to buy such products from home. KJ Miller of Mented Cosmetics said that HSN sales for their products have been strong during this period.
Keeping in line with the changing trend, even Qurate increased their remote TV appearances of hosts and reduced on-air talent working from studios during the pandemic. The hosts used to interact on skype when they had to demonstrate different products and most people also enjoyed the change. It was interesting to see this change as many people had not seen such things in the past. Company officials say that such programs being telecast from home may continue for the next few months till things return back to normalcy. Many hosts are now working from their homes and uploading videos of different products.
However, QVC hopes to return back to studio production full time shortly in the next few months. This will help them to demonstrate their products in a better way and more information about the products can be given to consumers in this manner.