Some trends move more quickly than others.
We predicted that privacy would be a big issue this year — this, after years when people said Millennials aren’t concerned about privacy. We’re seeing a lot of articles that raise concerns about privacy. We also said that facial recognition would get a lot of attention this year.
The New York Times recently wrote “Facial Recognition Moves Into a New Front: Schools,” noting that, “A district in New York has adopted the technology in the name of safety. Opponents cite privacy and bias concerns.”
Part of the reason for putting facial recognition in schools is a topic we didn’t identify: the need to improve safety to prevent mass shootings in places that didn’t have or need much security before, including schools, churches and temples. (We do expect to see a lot more coverage about protecting these kinds of locations this year, as these organizations, often nonprofits or otherwise under financed, have to figure out a way to protect the people who visit those locations without keeping away people who need their services.)
In addition to reporting on facial recognition, the Times also wrote about robots, which we said, “Robots won’t take over in 2020 but will be more commonplace.” The Times recently published an article, “The Robots Are Coming. Prepare for Trouble,” noting that “Artificial intelligence won’t eliminate every retail job, an economist says, but the future could be grim unless we start planning now.” First, it says that “robots are coming,” not that they are fully here yet, which aligns with our prediction.
The article also looks at AI and how it’s used in retail — which correlates with another of our predictions! The article notes that the impact of robots and AI in retail has led to more than 6,000 store closings in 2018. Interestingly, the growth of e-commerce is strong, growing at nearly doubled but over the past five years, it went from 6% to 11%.
(You’d think from all the claims of Amazonification or the coming of the Retailapacalypse, that the percentage of e-commerce as a share of the overall retail market would be substantially higher.) Just wait, we guess. But the article also mentions how AI is being used to “figure out what customers want and to get it to them quickly,” which is another point we made.
Meanwhile, more bad news the retail sector. Bloomingdale’s is shutting down its fur boutiques — but that seems like being the victim of fashion trends. But Macy’s is shutting down 125 stores over the next three years and approximately 2000 corporate jobs. The impact is that Macy’s has “served as a backbone for America’s shopping malls.”
This is our final validation for this blog: we had said that food delivery apps are going to face challenges this year, due to completion from other apps and from restaurateurs realizing that they’re not making enough money, maybe even losing money, and that this is not sustainable. Here’s the latest on this from the Journal: “Grubhub Spends to Draw In More Diners: Tight competition is pushing food-delivery rivals to experiment, adapt to industry in flux.” The costs for consumers will have to increase in order to make it sustainable for apps — DoorDash, GrubHubs, Uber Eats, and Postmates — as well as for the restaurants themselves.
Grubhub said it will sacrifice profits to compete — the challenge is how long they can operate before generating a profit. With an expected $100 million in profits for this fiscal year, we guess they have some runway to reach sustainability.
We’re living in an interesting time: there is a trend for people to spend more time cooking for themselves, with organic ingredients, even with food selection and recipes delivered to your door for you to cook at home. At the same time, we’re seeing a strong appetite (pun intended) for food delivery services for people who don’t want to prep, cook and clean. We guess that means you can have it your way.
Which is our way of saying: consumers will have more choices for how to approach meals, and they seem willing to pay a premium for convenience. How much of a premium has yet to be answered.