Tom Dougherty, CEO – Stealing Share
17 April 2019
5,994 and counting, retail closings at record numbers
In 2018 alone, 5,864 retail locations closed. So far in 2019, retail closings stand at 5,994 and it is only April. If the pace stays the same throughout the year, a whopping 16,000 locations will close in 2019. I doubt that will happen. But with the sheer number of retailers struggling, I think the only safe bet is that there isn’t one.
I have written about retail’s failures and struggles ad nauseam. There is no easy fix where retail is concerned. It is a multifaceted issue partly driven by phenomena (online shopping) that is new and somewhat unpredictable. Whatever retailers think will happen in the next 2-5 years is likely only a small part of the story.
Oh sure it’s easy for anyone to say that by year 20-such and such, online shopping will account for blah blah percentage of retail sales. I see these numbers all the time and always take them with multiple grains of salt. Other than the prediction that online retail sales will increase over time, I simply do not have any confidence in the numbers being put forth by the prognosticators. We are seeing an unprecedented fusion of technology and selling. Therefore, it’s foolish to believe we have the ability to predict what will happen. Other than online sales won’t EVER be going away.
“The problem is retail stopped giving a shit about the consumer. And, since solving that problem is seen as too hard to solve, they blame online retailers, like Amazon.”
It’s easy to dismiss the retail closings this year as a Payless problem or Gymboree problem. There’s a whole host of industry-wide problems. Not acting quickly enough to the changing market is one. The failure to develop any kind of meaningful brand is another.
However, the main problem is you and me, the consumers. We are the ones causing these stores to close. We are the ones who stop shopping at Sears, Circuit City, The Limited, and Game Stop.
Retailers are trying to solve the wrong problem as they place blame in the wrong direction. (Usually, the culprit named is Amazon.)
The problem is retail stopped giving a shit about the consumer. And, since solving that problem is seen as too hard to solve, they blame online retailers, like Amazon. As long as retailers refuse to address the big fat eight-million pound gorilla in the room, they will continue to file for bankruptcy and retail closings will increase.
Until they actually start to care about and understand the consumers they pretend to know so deeply, nothing’s going to change.
Amazon didn’t kill the retailer, the retailer did.
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