There has been more in the media this week about retail stores doing it tough and some having to close up shop. While we love to celebrate the retail success stories in this industry, we know that behind every one, there are countless others that don’t turn out so rosy.
There’s no denying it’s a challenging time to be in retail – we are in the midst of a seismic shift in consumer behaviour, and while sellers in one form or another have been around since the year dot, their modern counterparts often find themselves in unchartered territory.
The old rules – rules that had been a staple of retail marketing for years – have been left behind, but there are really no set new rules either, amid what can seem like almost daily change.
So it’s only natural that in this environment, retail closures can end up amplified in the media, or held up as proof the industry is on its knees.
But these are the moments to remind ourselves that entries and exits are a normal part of a thriving retail industry – in fact, the rates of entries and exits have remained steady for some years!
With extended retail hours kicking off right around the country this week (Queensland was first cab off the rank on Monday), it’s clear the Aussie retail sector is firing on all cylinders, and this Christmas season, we’re really seeing what a true, omni-channel approach looks like, with more convenience for consumers than ever before.
Shoppers are interacting via social channels, buying online and heading in store, but are also out in force taking advantage of the ever-growing trend toward experiential retailing.
We are in the midst of a global shift driven by consumers who want a more personal, interactive experience, and the nation’s shopping centres have this year rolled out the red carpet when it comes to live entertainment and interactive offerings in the lead up to Christmas – right down to things like antler assembly, wreath design, lego making and table styling workshops, roaming entertainment and choirs performing Christmas carols.
In the past kids would line up (rather impatiently!) to see the big man in red, armed with their wish list and a few good stories about their exemplary behaviour to firm up the deal, but with this year’s elaborate forests of real pine trees to make wishes (and new friends) in, wandering elves to chat with, and fun North Pole workshops, children can spend as much time as they like simply soaking up the magic and wonder of Christmas.
These experiential services are now an integral part of a dynamic, vibrant and evolving industry – one the NRA has helped retailers navigate through almost a century of change!
As the largest and most representative retail association in the country, we walk beside each and every one of you – from the smallest, online-only start-ups, to the largest, omni-channel, household names – to help you set your own rules and find your own way to make your mark in this challenging, but exciting, time.
Have a great week.
Dominique Lamb, CEO.