Tony Stockil, chief executive of Javelin Group speaking at the World Retail Congress said he believes that recessionary effects, increased costs and the impact of e-commerce will cut the number of stores dramatically. He suggested that by 2020 the number of electricals outlets would be down by 35 per cent; clothing and footwear down by 31 per cent; furniture down by 34 per cent; and health & beauty down by 18 per cent.
I disagree with Tony. I believe that the total number of stores will not be much changed from today and might even increase. What will change is the size of the stores and what they do. As a trend stores will get smaller and retailers such as Wickes and Halfords are already going down that path. Other retailers will open different types of fomats such as Little Waitrose and John Lewis Home. The whole concept will be much more customer focused and stores will be developed to meet specific needs rather than a single catch all model.
What shops actually do is already changing too. Acting as a pickup and return point for a web selling operation is becoming widespread. Selling more to these new visitors to the store will be a big opportunity. Add technology such as magic mirrors, virtual reality, and real shopping assistants and stores become “must visit” destinations.
Personally I’m very positive about the future of retail and excited about the challenges and opportunities to do things differently that it brings.