Countdown to 2016, Prediction #2: Big Shakeout Coming In Retail

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This is #2 of my top 5 predictions for 2016. The prediction posts started December 27th and will be wrapping up on December 31st. #5DaysOfTrends

No surprise here: we are over-retailed. Malls and high rent districts are taking the biggest hits. In NYC, Madison Avenue, Soho and the Lower East Side are all awash in For Rent signs. Fashion retailers in upscale malls like Brookfield Place were virtual bowling alleys when I did store checks in early December.

The only brick and mortar retailers I saw consistently busy over the last few months were Apple, Uniqlo, Victoria’s Secret, Sephora, Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s.

I don’t think this shift is short term. I’m definitely spending more on travel, eating out and tech/internet services and WAY LESS on apparel.

Which brings us to retail’s biggest problem: fashion. Read on below for this – and other – retail watch-outs and opportunities.

Retail’s biggest problem is fashion. Neither a priority nor aspirational anymore, there’s been a tectonic shift away from status brands and logos for everyone from teens to boomers.

That said, we still need clothes and I was thrilled to find a new favorite this year that now comprises over half of my wardrobe:  COS, the architecturally-inspired brand from H&M. There are only 7 stores in the United States. The one on Spring Street is generally jam-packed and appeals to women of all ages. The style, fit (and prices) are great but I am disappointed in the quality of the fabrics. And sadly, the 2016 styles look very extreme so this may be a short-lived brand love affair.

Additionally, and this is so important, the average American is carrying much more weight than anyone in the fashion world is willing to acknowledge. The average women’s size is 14, the size at which “plus-sized” clothing begins. And the average size for men is 44. It’s those larger sizes that generally have the money – and the desire – to buy better clothes. If designers and retailers would put these consumers at the center of their universe, designing clothes that make them look amazing, the fashion world might stand a chance.  If not, shame on them as they willfully go out of business.

Other retail predictions:

More online and mobile shopping – more people shopped online than in stores during the Thanksgiving and Black Friday weekend, a sign of how quickly and deeply American shopping habits have changed.  Revenue from mobile shoppers on Black Friday grew 95% over last year, with the “vast majority” of purchases made on iPhones (sometimes while in the store!!).

More bank branch closures – Bank of America, for example, has shuttered 1400 branches (or one-fifth of its locations) over the last 5 years and plans to close more as its customers increasingly bank online.  When you calculate all the banks that are doing the same, that’s a lot of empty storefronts.

More same-day delivery – I know people love this but I’m too organized to need it and, on top of that, too cheap to pay for it.

More buying on a “when-needed” basis – we’ll see less seasonal pre-planning e.g. the bulk of back-to-school will shift to late September after school begins.  Also look for Black Friday to become a “non-event.”

More pop-ups that go all-out in providing fabulous #hashtaggable brand experiences. Remember, if it doesn’t inspire people to instagram, FB or tweet, you’re not doing it right! Two recent best-in-class pop-ups: Museum of Feelings (Glade) and Target Wonderland.

 

 

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