Stock illustration: Peering through the clouds

Things are starting to look up. The fight against Covid-19 has made progress; rollout of vaccines has begun. But corporate leaders have learned lessons the hard way over the past 12 months—and some continue to face significant challenges.

The effects of the pandemic have been far-reaching, causing disruption to supply chains and a slowdown in consumer demand. For example, in the retail sector, 2020's Black Friday weekend saw 4 million fewer Americans make a purchase, with average spending per shopper down 14 percent, according to the National Retail Federation. Although online giants like Amazon reported stellar performance over the 2020 holiday season, the picture was significantly less rosy for smaller retailers, independent shops, and those without the reserves to adapt quickly to a rapidly changing external environment.

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