Brick-and-mortar retail poised for an On-trend comeback


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Brick-and-mortar businesses, emphasizing quality and value delivered with a human touch, will grow stronger in the months and years ahead as chains continue their downward spiral.

The dramatic decline of shopping malls, a trend we forecast in 1997 when we warned that mall culture would degenerate in coming decades, often is attributed to online shopping’s rise. But as the Trends Research Institute has been forecasting, shifting demographics, a stagnant economy and an overbuilt retail sector – created decades ago for a thriving middle class that has dramatically shrunk – also have fueled the trend.

As the “bigs” struggled to survive during the last decade, mergers and acquisitions swept the retail landscape. Cutting costs to enhance profitability and focusing on a one-size-fits-all corporate strategy, rather than producing diverse and creative products, have resulted in a deeply homogenized retail landscape.

CHOICE IS DEAD

After years of consolidation, product choice has been sharply limited throughout the broad business spectrum… retail, manufacturing, services, communications, etc. As products are eliminated from shelves because they don’t drive profits hard and fast enough, and services fall victim to the same logic, new opportunities emerge for savvy OnTrendpreneurs® who identify the underserved market gaps left by the “bigs.”

From grocery stores, whose mainstay brands like Hormel Foods and Campbell’s Soup have lost appeal with younger audiences, to clothing retailers like Macy’s and JCPenney, whose sales continually decline, major chains have sacrificed new-product development.

In the big-box world, profit pressures compel major corporations to repurpose, aggregate and target-market essentially the same product multiple ways. These pressures have pushed major corporations further away from aggressive research-and-development pursuits. After years of frantic nonstop merger/acquisition and corporate-takeover activity, the available pool of original products, services and content is greatly diminished.

And while struggling retailers may be closing brick-and-mortar stores and malls at a record pace, mom-and-pop businesses on Main Street will experience a revival. OnTrendpreneurs® who understand how to create consumer environments with a personal touch and unique product lines will be on trend to stand apart from the bottom-line merger/acquisition culture so pervasive today.

TREND FORECAST: Yes, online shopping will continue to grow, but not in all categories.

Brick-and-mortar businesses are here to stay. The boutique business model – a personalized business that reflects the quality and uniqueness of the market it serves – is the antidote to the slow death of giant retailers who fail to recognize emerging trends and fail to provide value that reflects consumer needs and interests.

The “bigs” took the style out of shopping. New generations of consumers, especially millennials, are craving a shopping “experience” that speaks to them.

In the 1980s and ’90s, many Main Street mom-and-pop stores were put out of business by malls, which became community gathering places for shopping, fun and dining. Today, that trend has reversed: The decline of malls will give rise to brick-and-mortar businesses on Main Street, especially in towns near major metropolitan areas.

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