THE SHOP

November '19

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6 THE SHOP NOVEMBER 2019 W hen will the next recession hit? No one knows, but retailers are aware the nation's decade- long run of good times can't last forever. Two-thirds of the nation's chief financial officers expect the United States to tip into an economic downturn by the third quarter of 2020, according to a Duke University/ CFO Global Business Outlook survey. Reasons? Experts cite potential triggers as disparate as a serious U.S.-China rift, an interest rate misstep by the Federal Reserve, the growing levels of corporate debt and the ballooning federal deficit. Any one factor might tip the economy into a recession—loosely defined as a sig- nificant drop in economic activity lasting more than a few months. LEMONS TO LEMONADE Whatever its cause, a recession is bound to pose bottom-line challenges. So, can the pain be lessened? Yes, if you take certain steps to retool your retail operations in advance of the slowdown. And the time to start those steps, say the experts, is now. "Churchill said 'never waste a crisis,'" says John McQuaig, managing partner of McQuaig & Welk, the Wenatchee, Wash- ington-based management consulting firm (mcqw.com). "His advice is just as relevant when it comes to preparing for one. Don't waste the time that still remains before the arrival of the next recession." Waiting too long is risky. "Shooting from the hip in a downturn often leads to business decisions that are com- promises or worse," says Michael Asbury, founder of Elevate Coaching and Consulting, Trinity, North Carolina (elevate-outcomes. com). "Unprepared retailers are left with fewer options when tough times arrive, and those options are usually bad ones." Early steps to retool your business can return rich dividends in the form of a stronger bottom line long before a recession actually hits. Plan now to survive & thrive in the next downturn. By Phillip M. Perry Your Business Recession- Proof When will the next recession hit? No one knows, but retailers are aware the nation's decade- long run of good times can't last forever. How to

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