Retail Destination 2020: One of every three stores will close


Article published originally in November 2013

Retail Destination 2020: One of every three stores will close

One in three stores will close. We may or may not agree. It’s true; the figure might be too high. And it’s for the U.K. market (will it happen here in our market?). In the end, it’s just a prediction I read a short time ago in a report on a healthy company*. It was mentioned after an in-depth analysis of the evolution of the retail market in the United Kingdom in recent years. Like any other prediction based on the past, it was an attempt to foresee the future.

Have you thought about it? Let’s say it’s too high and that only 15% of stores will close. What if one of them is yours? That’s right. The one where you shop. Or worse, the one where you sell your products. The one you use to distribute the goods that cost you so much to manufacture. Now we can start to see what has caused such a sharp drop in the number of points of sale. It’s basically the work of the usual suspects:

  • E-commerce: sales made on line, regardless of where the purchase is made and where the acquired goods are collected
  • Omni-channel retailing: sales in which at least two of all the different channels are used, including the store

I think we would all agree that there has been incredible growth in these two areas in recent years. And it’s not going to stop. That will involve a series of basic changes in the current retail panorama. Let’s take a quick look at a few ideas:

1. Types of stores: Stores will follow very specific patterns:

  • There will be fewer stores, but they will be bigger and better located to attract higher numbers of the target audience, which will be able to live the brand experience as occurred years ago with Nike’s Niketowns.
  • On the other hand, it will be more difficult to find stores in which you can do everything (see the product, try it, buy it, customer service, return the product, etc.).


2. Shopping districts: There will be winners and losers. There will be fewer shopping streets than before. That is, streets with few stores and light commercial traffic will suffer and tend to disappear. But there will also be streets with a greater concentration of retailers.

3. Brands: Brands seeking to grow will launch or continue their retail activities (such as Apple and its stores).

4. Skills: Companies that work in retail (in any form, including online sales) will have to assess the skills they want their employees to develop (or will need in the future to be able to compete).

5. Where to buy: Manufacturing brands (such as Unilever and Procter & Gamble) and distributing brands (such as Sephora) will have to decide if the digital environment generates traffic and sales:

At physical points of sale or, alternatively, to ecom stores.

All this leads to the question: How can we manage this radical shift in the retail world? What if we analyze it in terms of opportunities? Why not exploit the potential of this change, rather than viewing it as something negative? What if the idea is to be one step ahead? What if we rethink the recent past and plan for the future? What if we do better with less? What if our goal is not to have a store with more square feet, but one that harnesses the power of new technologies and is driven by a different mindset toward selling?

And what if stores were just one element and not the central element? And what if the goal in 2020 were not to open more stores? What if we close some stores and grow in e-commerce? What if we have vision? What if we dared to do it?


* The company is called the Javelin Group.
This post is a copy of the original published in

Foto: ‘Closed’, by chrisinplymouth

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