Despite strong Black Friday, retail rethink must continue

Despite strong Black Friday, retail rethink must continue {really??}

[411 Note: Below is an “article” from a business site that talks about retail. They’re pro-NJ and are trying desperately to figure out how to save brick and mortar. Or something like that. Read the piece below (with our comments in BOLD.)]

retail business survival in NJ

By NJBIZ

The numbers indicate Black Friday was something for which retailers could be thankful. And most tellingly, more shoppers were perusing deals on their phones while their turkey digested than were lining up for Friday’s doorbusters.

(Yep – Black Friday is ALWAYS okay for brick and mortar retailers. Whether it results in long-term sustainability is not certain.)

That’s a really important trend, especially in New Jersey, officially the Garden State but far better known for its shopping malls than its cranberry bogs. The idea that online shopping could continue to erode the brick-and-mortar shopping industry would have enormous economic impact here. Retail doesn’t create the kind of high-paying jobs that are most desirous for the state, but plenty of people draw their pay from the industry, and the commercial real estate market is kept healthy by reliably strong tenants.

(A dumb statement, really. It’s known that holiday shopping “increases” at the end of each year. But this said nothing whatsoever. Online shopping has been chipping away at the (COST PROHIBITIVE) brick and mortar for close to TWO decades. That is why you see so many “for rent” signs at many retail outlets…)

But we’re not saying anything you don’t already know. Retail is an industry that must seriously rethink itself as razor-thin margins get even thinner while digital competitors take an ever-larger chunk out of bottom lines. Some, like Walmart, are doing so through acquisition, including its celebrated purchase of New Jersey-based Jet.com last year. Others are designing retail spaces that are heavy on entertainment features, like the American Dream project in the Meadowlands.

(For one, I no longer appreciate Jet.com. Waste of time. Plus this whole thing about “entertainment features” is odd. I mean who needs to be entertained? I thought shopping was to fulfill a need? Are they banking on “wants” more than pragmatic decisions? Perhaps I’m not the ideal shopper…)

Ironically, the state may still benefit as the retail industry goes ever more digital, with companies such as Amazon continuing to open fulfillment centers. But retailers — especially small and independent shops — have got to find more creative ways to engage with their communities, whether through initiatives like Small Business Saturday or social media channels like Facebook and Instagram. Given how vital independent retailers are to the health of downtown reclamation projects throughout New Jersey, the stakes are high for the real estate community and municipal and state governments, which would do well to consider themselves partners in this effort. Early reports indicated small-business retail was down from past Small Business Saturday events.

(Sure, big companies like Amazon might give a few thousand (out of 10+ million) people a job, it’s a shoddy job from what we hear. And how small businesses have to whore themselves out in the overly-competitive digital pimping markets like Fakebook and Instagram – it seems like that sucks big time. Billions of “pins” and Instagram posts (which are just photos and stupid text) to lure customers into your store seems ridiculously superficial. Why can’t people decide more sensibly other than being persuaded by some moronic posts about stuff? What happened to us as a body of people?)

The writing has been on the wall for retail for quite some time, and a great many players in the industry have largely ignored it. But whether your business is a downtown store or in a major shopping center, the story gets a little sharper each holiday shopping season. This is a tough space in which to innovate, but the industry needs to move the needle here, or risk a continued drop in traffic at the holidays and more brands like Toys R Us filing for bankruptcy protection.

(True – the signs have been out there. Perhaps it’s time for all brick and mortar (except food) to go away? Maybe that is the real future. Where the only physical stores that exist are for things people want NOW. Like smokes and booze and perhaps a cheese stick or two. Maybe a pair of socks and some nose-hair tweezers. Dunno – but I wouldn’t be surprised if it happened before 2020.)

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