We’ve been following the retail sector for a couple of years because we think it is important contributor to the local economy and to a community’s sense of well-being. And that when an area has too many for-rent signs on empty store fronts, it can hurt the community’s sense of self, and drive people away.
Some seem to think that the “Retail Apocalypse has been averted,” per a recent Wall St. Journal headline, based positive results announced in Q4 2019 by Target and Lowe’s.
But we keep reading about additional store closings. And in one team member’s town, two mainstays, including a coffee shop and a bookstore, shut their doors suddenly in late December, leaving signs of thanks for the decades of being able to serve the community. They join several other now-for-rent store fronts.
Not all of retail’s woes are due to Amazon. After all, you can’t — at least not yet — have Amazon Prime deliver hot coffee, chai tea and baked goods.
So one of our predictions is that in-store retailers would turn to technology to improve the experience and selection.
And that is what the Wall St. Journal has started to report: “Retailers Hope In-Store Tech Will Keep Shoppers in Stores: Old-guard retailers are looking for technology systems that can make visits to physical stores better or more relevant.” The article reports on new back-end systems as well as new customer-facing technology that is designed to improve the in-store experience.
The Journal also ran another article that specifically looked at updating department stores: “Department stores were once the cutting edge of retail. Can they reclaim some of their old magic?
We hope that retail does fix itself just as we hope that the news business does.