So much loss, but try to remember there are winners too
For the retail consultant, tough times, interesting times, whatever you want to call them, are times for innovation as well as grief. It's all a matter of perspective
Posted by Killian McAleese, 1st July 2011
The proverbial Middle of it. That's where we seem to be right now.
We're in the retail consulting business after all, not banking. If we were in banking maybe we'd get to say we were on the rise again. Maybe we'd say the worst is over, we hit the bottom of the trough, the nation bailed us out what seems like a decade ago now, and we're clawing our way back to the top, albeit with job losses.
Retail is not banking. Retail is not the crash and burn industry; it's the sector in which the rot creeps slowly through our businesses and streets. It is the area of our economy about whose problems we continue to hear, years after the dramatic catalysts of recession.
Yes, Retail Consultant has been hearing about the fall of certain retailers since a relatively early stage in this process, but don't you think we're hearing about it a lot right now?
And yes, the high street has been clearing out much of the smaller scale, independent businesses for some years already, too. The problem, the situation, isn't new.
But that doesn't mean we're not in the middle. The signs suggest that we're in the middle of a catastrophic wave that's knocking out some of our favourite national chains and household names, and today we hear from the staff of Retail Week that there could be worse to come.
Many of us will remember Mothercare from our own mothers shopping there. For some of us, Habitat equates to the very epitome of 70s chic, as much as to the 90s and beyond. These are names of businesses so familiar, so stalwart, that their demise is hardly fathomable.
But there's more woe on the way. 2011, we hear, promises and is delivering worse sales figures than in the depths of the recession, with 2012 unlikely to see improvement.
We're hearing that Thornton's is cutting 120 stores, M&S are already looking at a summer sale (it's 1st July) and it's now looking certain that Moben owner Homeform and likely also T.J. Hughes are facing administration. Not good.
As hopeless as all of this sounds, there is yet hope. The fall of high street and retail park stalwarts isn't just about falling demand, falling disposable incomes and rising costs. Many of the major players' demises can also be attributed to factors which were years in the making. Bad property decisions, unaffordable leases, structural issues, internal loss of morale and lack of innovation.
The list goes on, but make no mistake, many of the great falls we're currently witnessing are due to such factors.
Why is this good? Well, it isn't good at all, but it does mean that we're living through times during which innovation is not only possible, but key to success. We also live in an era packed to the gills with educated, over-qualified even, professionals and young people, innovators and the people to support them.
This year is not, and should not just be considered, a time of retail losers; winners are out there too. It's rare that someone loses, after all, without someone else winning.
Online retail, this company's speciality, is of course an area where plenty of winners are to be found.
Any other winners out there?
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