A Shot of Retail Renaissance Anyone?

November. 

It’s here and retail executives and workers everywhere could use a little boost — a little something to get them through the 60-plus-day mad dash of crowded stores, overtaxed ecommerce systems and staff and the flurry of returns that the rest of us call the “holiday season.”

We’re here to deliver.

We present to you, the Retail Renaissance. The Apocalypse is so 2017. Today retail is on fire. Store closings are good. The country is overstored. Lumbering retailers that missed a few key onramps to the 21st century are getting out for good and making room for digitally native upstarts and legacy players that are reinventing themselves. 

As evidence, we turn to no less an authority on what makes the economy and key industries tick than Goldman Sachs. In the Goldman-produced video below, researcher Matt Fassler, lays out the argument for why retail is in a better place than it has been in years.

If you’re working in retail this holiday season, we recommend that you fire up this video every morning or night before you go to work. It should give you the bounce in your step that you need. Given the steady stream of store closings — think Sears, think Radio Shack, think Toys R Us and Bon-Ton and on and on — maybe it’s been a while since you’ve heard someone say this:

“A year ago, people were talking about the death of retail. Instead we’re having a retail renaissance,” Fassler says in the video. “Retail is having a good moment.”

OK, maybe the word “moment” doesn’t have you doing a happy dance, but you’ve got to admit, things could be worse. Apparently, a lot worse.

Fassler runs through the macro-economic reasons retail is roaring — consumer confidence is high, wages are up, tax cuts put money in many shoppers’ pockets, net worth is growing thanks to increasing home values. And he explains that all of that is good news for retailers.

Retailers are seeing their highest sales since 2004

The industry, he says, is seeing its best sales since 2004, which is a great way to go into the crucial holiday season. And brick-and-mortar retailers? Not only are they not dead yet, many are excelling at ecommerce, which is helping their businesses overall. They’re again capturing “their fair share of the pie,” Fassler says. Large retailers’ online-sales growth rate is outpacing the sector’s overall rate, he says.

And while, he acknowledged the struggles specific retailers have had — closings, bankruptcies etc. — he expresses great confidence in those that have found their way. One of the big reasons why, happens to be our favorite part of Fassler’s entire analysis.

“The most interesting takeaway,” he says, “is how forward-thinking retail management has become. Retailers are deploying technology in interesting ways.”

It’s something that maybe we’ve said once or twice: Innovation is a key to retail success. In fact, the most successful retailers act like startups — or at least create divisions that are encouraged to act like startups. They are nimble. They try new things, fail fast, iterate and look for partners who are strong where they are weak. 

There are signs, Fassler’s observations among them, that it just might be working. Something to think about for retailers and retail workers as they steel themselves for this year’s holiday run.

Photo by Mike Cassidy

 

 

Mike Cassidy

Mike is lead storyteller at Signifyd. A former journalist and a retail geek, he covers ecommerce and the way technology is transforming digital commerce. Contact him at mike.cassidy@signifyd.com; follow him on Twitter at @mikecassidy.

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