Screen Printing - April/May 2018 - 4
Brick-and-mortar retail isn't dying - it's evolving.
recent conversation with friends turned to the decline of brick-and-mortar
retail - a game in which they know I have more than a little skin. (In addition to
Screen Printing, I also work on other ST Media Group brands, including VMSD, the
leading magazine covering retail store design.) I asked the group to guess what
percentage of retail is now done online; the consensus was "more than half, easily."
No one believed me when I told them the actual number: Nine percent. According to the US Department of Commerce, there were about $5 trillion of retail sales
in 2017, $453 billion of which involved orders that were placed or negotiated using
mobile or other online devices.
I know why my friends doubt the data. News about brick-and-mortar retail has been
unremittingly grim, including a record number of store closures last year: 6700, according
to Fung Global Retail & Technology, a figure that could swell to 8600 stores in 2018 based
on estimates from Credit Suisse. Malls are dying; iconic brands like Sears and J.C. Penney
top analysts' death-watch lists; the retail sector lost more than 67,000 jobs last year,
according to UBS, even though sales were up substantially. The numbers are brutal.
But they're also misleading. Lost in the gloomy narrative is the fact that stores are
opening as well - about 2200 from major brands alone based on a recent Business
Insider report. And just as it's becoming conventional wisdom that e-commerce will
inevitably displace the conventional store, many of the most successful online merchants are migrating the opposite direction, with brands like Warby Parker and Bonobos aggressively opening new locations and apparel merchant Everlane opening its
first store in New York after years of swearing it would never get into physical retail.
Last month, VMSD's editorial advisory board, featuring many of the key decision
makers in the development of retail spaces, met at Globalshop 2018 in Chicago to
discuss this phenomenon and the store transformation it's causing. Realizing that their
connection with consumers is incomplete without a physical presence, merchants are
upending the traditional role of the store to deliver unique consumer experiences that
cannot be approximated online.
Two excellent examples from our industry were featured at SGIA's outstanding
ThreadX conference in February. Closing keynoter Johnny "Cupcakes" Earle built a
successful brand around limited-edition novelty shirts, beginning with online distribution and then unusual pop-ups before opening his first permanent
location in Boston in 2012. Building on the unlikely merger of baking
and magic that defines the brand, he designed the store to look
and smell like a vintage bakery, packaging his shirts in pie boxes
and using creative incentives to draw fans into the location. Tim
Williams of London-based YR Store explained how his company
developed an on-site apparel customization platform, initially to
sell their own shirts before realizing that their value proposition
was creating in-store experiences for brands that license their
technology - as dozens now do.
As one of the VMSD board members put it at our meeting,
"Retail is no longer a place to go; it's a state of being." Count on
places being a part of that state for a long time to come.
STEVE DUCCILLI, ASDPT
Senior Vice President of Content
Senior Vice President/Group Publisher
Business Development Managers
Lou Arneberg - East and Midwest US,
Jim Karwowski - West and South US,
Western Canada, Europe, Asia
Karen Jones - NC, SC, GA, Classifieds
Audience Development Manager
Director of Online Media
Screen Printing Subscription Services
P.O. Box 3060, Northbrook, IL 60065
F: 847-763-9030 E: SP@omeda.com