Talk about the death of retail is great click bait. Media outlets from the Wall Street Journal to Fortune to USA Today have trumpeted news about store closings, retail bankruptcies, and the end of retail as we know it. If we’re to believe these articles, we’ll all be buying from Amazon.com, and malls will become old age homes for Baby Boomers. And the rest of us should just close up shop now, and put an end to the pain.
The only trouble with these stories is … they’re baloney. They serve to frighten the industry, allow retail observers to pontificate endlessly, and give “everyman” a new slow-moving train wreck to watch. And they don’t do much more than that.
Following are five reasons, in no particular order, that shatter the notion that “retail is reeling.”
1 – Retail sales in the first quarter of 2017 increased 4.1% over the first quarter of 2016. As my friend Greg Buzek of IHL points out, retail has a very cyclical sales cycle. Comparing sales to a month immediately preceding it is nonsense. Think about it. Can we compare November to December, for example? Of course we can’t. One is the slow period right before Black Friday, and the other is the heat of the holiday season. If we look at those numbers, we’d think retailers are blowing the doors off. Ironically, in 2016, Easter fell in March vs. April in 2017, so by rights, we should have seen a year-over-year dampening effect in Q1. We didn’t. Retail isn’t reeling. Some retailers are. Others are doing just fine, thank you.
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