I recently attended the 2014 SPECS (Store Planning, Equipment, Construction Services) conference in Grapevine, Texas, and came away with some fascinating food for thought. The event, which is produced by Chain Store Age, celebrated its 50th anniversary this year.
While we’re only just getting started on 2014, already one of the big retail stories is store closings. While the economy is far from robust, we aren’t in a recession either, and so at first these closings might seem a little surprising.
After taking a look at some of the post-holiday sales figures, it seems like maybe I was a little too pessimistic. While the overall 2013 holiday season’s sales aren’t particularly impressive, they aren’t flat, either — which is an outcome that I had worried about.
Perhaps no single brand had a holiday season quite as rocky as Sears. When the retailer announced a string of bad news on Jan. 9, shares of Sears Holding Corp. (which includes both Sears and Kmart) went through the floor.
While we wait for all of the official numbers to come in from the 2013 holiday shopping season — a topic I’ll address in a future column — I thought this might be a good time to expand on one of the points I made about retail downsizing in my 2014 forecast piece.
The more I think about this past year the more I think that the holiday numbers aren’t even the most important takeaway. What’s far more interesting to me is what 2013 has to tell us about where we go next.