Believe it or not (and I can barely believe it myself), the critical back-to-school period at the end of summer is right around the corner. While back-to-school is always big for retailers, this year’s period could be an especially important one, as 2014 has been underwhelming so far.
Store closings are hardly an infrequent topic in this space. As a barometer for both the performance of individual brands and the market at large, they are an important part of the equation for any retail analyst. Store closings are part of healthy portfolio management for any brand, and, on a larger scale, bankruptcies and reorganizations are a reflection of the market at work.
At a time when sluggish-to-modest industry numbers have seemingly become the norm, and a protracted economic recovery inches forward, the recent spate of seemingly good retail and economic news has industry analysts and observers like myself raising a collective eyebrow.
One topic that’s been on my mind lately is the growing Hispanic market in the U.S., and what its clout and purchasing power will mean for retailers — and, subsequently, for retail real estate — in the years ahead. “Emerging” is probably too mild of a word to describe the Hispanic market — exploding might be more accurate.
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.