The State of Shopping

I think that we are at the start of a pretty fundamental change in the retail industry.
This is being played out profoundly in the fashion segment. In the last 3 months we have seen a large number of mid tier retailers fail ( Payless, pumpkin patch, Marc’s, Howard’s storage, plus numerous others) this is being driven by the overhead in running a brick and mortar store in the face of reduced volume as this is now shared across offline and online players. Just have a look at the fall out in the states over Xmas ( Sears, Macy’s, gap,limited, American apparel)

What this is doing is making the offline shopping trip less compelling. There are less shops therefore less choice. This can only accellerate the decline. Landlords can slow this decline by readjusting rentals, but this is a hard pill to swallow and it will only slow, not stop the process.

So what does this mean? I think we will see offline move to more utility/commodity/service related purchases and online move more to the high involvement considered/descretion purchase.
Product freight requirements will also impact here. Ugly items will still be offline.

Warehouse stores – Costco etc
Greenfield discount department stores range adjusted to commodity
High street variety stores-
Big box hardware
Home delivered takeaway food
Installation/service retail

Boutique fashion/fad
Shopping centre food
Shopping centre department/discount department

The next 2 years will be telling.

This then flows on to ” discovery” online is really bad at satisfying browsing. With the advent of more and more targeted algorithms to narrow what you see, how do you get to know what you don’t know.

My feeling is that word of mouth recommendations endorsements from friends and colleagues will gain far more weight in the buying process than it now has.

We live in interesting times

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