From The Co-Founders


Tips, Tactics & Strategic Insights and Commentary
from The ROI Co-Founders, Pat Johnson and Dick Outcalt
Outcalt & Johnson: Retail Strategists LLC; Retail Turnaround Experts

Where Is Retailing Headed?

We've been wondering...

What's the #1 thing that the retail industry needs now more than anything else?

More towns. 

That's right, more towns and villages. Look, towns tend to be more residential, even slower and more relaxed. 

Even the word conjures up warmth. 

And towns, and the people who love towns, are a mecca for the vibrancy of retailing. Think about it: the retail industry needs more towns!

And it's already trending in that direction. Macys, Whole Foods, Nordstrom Rack, and Walmart have announced rolling out small formats, seeking locations closer to residential areas. They recognize that's where their customers are and will prefer to be. 

Conversely, there are way too many cities. 

Every city is struggling with half-empty medium and tall buildings envisioned back when nobody had heard nor respected the influence that the internet would have.

Now, many cities must reinvent themselves into, perhaps, a cluster of separate "towns." A downsizing, yes, but actually a realization that "Bigger may not be better, but better is better!"

Clearly, "city" has lost much of its appeal, especially with the traditional office workers. To recapture some appeal, cities must focus on their residential and tourist markets, especially with unique destination retailers. But this trend may be slow to materialize.

There's three quarters of this century remaining, The retail industry and all of society would benefit greatly if many more towns flourished, and many out-of-date cities dissolved, or more likely, shrank to a better-is-better size. Customers rule, and they want towns and villages.

Seventy-five years should do it. (That allows time for the vast amount of zoning changes that will be needed in today's cities and towns to allow for the new mix of people and land uses heading their way.) But the opportunities for retailers have never been greater!

That's what we've been thinking about. How about you?

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