Another Year, Another List
By George Anderson
It’s a consistently repeated phrase in retailing circles that the only constant is change. That said, looking back on 2005 we find that many of the issues that were high on the list to be addressed in 2004 were the same ones pretty much everyone was saying had to be dealt with in 2005. Here’s a brief overview (in no particular order) of some of the top issues of the past year. Anyone willing to bet whether they will still be on next year’s list?
Heat or Eat – The high cost of energy may not be making much of dent in the consumer spending in the land of the affluent, but for many others the high cost of filling
gas tanks and heating homes is a serious issue.
This Will Hurt – Medical insurance costs continue to go up and workers are picking up a greater piece of the healthcare tab as companies find they can no longer afford
to offer the comprehensive benefits of the past. In an attempt to keep costs down, Scotts Miracle-Gro (see RW 12/20/05 –
Marketer to Seed Ad Budget with Healthcare Savings) has even said it will fire workers that do not take part in the company’s smoking cessation program.
Mother Nature Isn’t Messing Around – One word… Katrina.
Location x 3 – Edward Lampert has opened investors’ eyes to the ability of a company’s real estate to increase its value. The year 2005 saw McDonald’s, Wendy’s and even
Mr. Lampert’s Sears Holdings under pressure from investors to make use of real estate holdings to drive up share prices.
Public or Private – Buy.com backed away from its IPO to go that route another day. Meanwhile, Toys R Us, Linens ‘n Things and others are being taken private by investment
Dealing for Dollars – The Albertsons’ deal didn’t happen but plenty of others in the land of consolidation, where bigger is supposed to make better, did.
The Great Conspiracy Theory – Marketers have to be at fault for the number of severely overweight adults and children in society – right? It couldn’t be a matter of personal
responsibility, could it?
Wal-Mart Facts/Wake Up Wal-Mart – The world’s largest retailer has addressed criticism about its business practices with concrete actions and an unprecedented public relations
campaign. Its critics say the wolf may be dressed like grandma, but that doesn’t make it a kindly old lady.
Spanish, English or Spanglish – Okay, we get it already. The Hispanic consumer market is big and growing more so every day. But are most companies any closer to understanding
this highly diverse group of consumers than they were last year?
Boycotting for Dollars – Righteous indignation from groups of all religious and political persuasions gets turned into a seemingly unending call for consumers to forego
spending their dollars at one retail store or another.
The Last of… – Grocery and department stores have been on the endangered species list for some time as new predators (namely Wal-Mart) ascend on the retailer version
of the Darwinian or intelligent design scale.
The iLife – Consumers and businesses continue moving to the web for information and commerce.
Lifestyle Rules – From Safeway’s new store format to the new urbanism movement, store and development design is focused on bringing back a little of the idyllic Main Street
USA to consumers’ lives.
Moderator’s Comment: What other issues not on this list do you think are worthy of mention from 2005? What do you think will be the big issues in retailing
next year? –
George Anderson – Moderator