In the New York Times this weekend, Ed McKelvey, senior economist for Goldman Sachs stated, “‘At a very minimum, the consumer is in some sort of retreat,’ after retailers report dismal sales in April.”
I can’t help but think about the blandness of retail as of late. Walking through the mall, every apparel storefront seems to present a similar look with clothing that lacks appeal, leaving nothing to draw consumers in. And while the malls may have traffic, customers toting shopping bags were few and far between — in essence, they’re looking, but they’re not buying.
Blue-chip retail stocks are flat in a bull market. Even Starbucks, which continues to grow revenues significantly and posted same store sales growth of 4% last quarter, is not growing the value of its stock.
Perhaps this is all part of a bigger issue — the homogeneity of retail. Are we looking for something more unique, more individual, more personal than what’s being presented out there? Are we tired of the massness of Starbucks, Ann Taylor and Pottery Barn and longing for products and shopping experiences more tailored to us as individuals?
Which brings me to my point. As a retailer, what’s the vision for your company? Can you clearly and succinctly in a couple of sentences give an elevator speech about what you stand for? A good vision statement includes what you are, why you’re unique, and can even include your target market and strategy for where you’ll open locations. The key is to have one, then test it against everyone else out there to ensure you’re going to be successful — be unique and cater to an unfulfilled need in the marketplace (and oh yeah, make sure your product mix and store experience doesn’t mimic the massness of what many people are tired of).