By Kris James
Happy Wednesday Stylers! A day doesn’t go by without some headline stating that the end of retail is near. It seems like more and more stores and malls are closing. The retail industry is falling apart, and some are calling it the “retail apocalypse.” A lot of our favorite brands that we trust and have grown to love are closing their doors on us.
Hundreds of thousands are out of work. I should know because I was one of them. After spending five years at Rue21, it closed. Nobody saw it coming. My manger at the time called me and said that Rue was closing 600 stores and that we were one of them. Just like that the crew and I were out of a job.
But why is this happening? For the past 10 years, the lower 40 percent income group has found itself struggling to keep up with expenses. The middle 40 percent has also seen its income shrink. Health care costs have risen 62 percent, education 41 percent, food 17 percent, and housing 12 percent. Necessities now take up more than 100 percent of low-income family’s budget. Income and net worth gains are disproportionately going to the highest income group. The debate is over if online shopping is to blame, “so they say.” Millennials are often grouped and portrayed to be the source of disruption to everything. However, it’s the high-income millennials’ misleading behaviors that are being misrepresented in the groups overall.
A major change is happening in the retail world, but it’s not an apocalypse, more like a “retail renaissance.” It’s being fueled by big shifts in economics and the consumers access to options, all driven by advancements in technology. I like to call it redefining the consumer experience. In reality, retail revenues have risen every year since 2009 and have continued to grow. Yes, we are seeing the media talking about closing stores but more stores are opening. Brick and mortar sales are predicted to grow by $36 billion through 2022. Brands are rethinking the consumer experiences and how to profit off it. Not only to survive, but to thrive.
There are a hand full of innovative retailers pioneering new approaches and seeing growth. In a world where everything is at the tip of your finger, people are still seeking out authentic one on one experiences. Stores that are flourishing in this new era are becoming multi-dimensional and are going beyond a customer and brand transaction relationship (Apple, Nike, Everlane, and Nordstrom just to name a few). While the debate has been offline vs. online, one thing brands shouldn’t forget is who are your customers and how can you serve them?