Impact of COVID-19 on Shareholder Activism in the Retail Industry

October 06, 2020

The primary focus of many retailers in the near term will likely be on staying afloat and addressing their liquidity needs, the health and safety of their employees and customers, the overall health of their businesses, and how best to pivot their business models to adapt to shifting consumer preferences and expectations in the wake of the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. However, as the retail industry has been upended by the pandemic as never before, and taking into consideration that almost all well-known activist investors have a longstanding interest in the retail sector, retailers should also be concerned with how the turmoil caused by the pandemic has made them attractive targets for activist investors. It is also likely that the recent proliferation of special purpose acquisition companies (SPACS), particularly SPACS with an expressed interest in consumer-facing companies or SPACS formed by well-known activist investors with retail industry experience, may be a strong catalyst for increased shareholder activism in the retail industry.