Polar Opposites Rule Retail
Commentary by George Anderson
The center has gone out of retail. Maybe it has gone out of America.
Politically, economically, racially, spiritually… the nation increasingly appears to be divided into camps with separate agendas and views of the way forward.
At retail, the luxury market continues to remain strong while, at the other end, dollar stores, limited assortment grocers and Wal-Mart continue to command a sizeable and growing
share of consumer purchases. Those that have tried to take a middle position have often found themselves on the wrong side of Chapter 11 or worse.
The National Retail Federation’s (NRF) announcement earlier in this week that it would bring a new version of its future store, the X06 Marketplace, to its Annual Convention
in January is another illustration that retail is headed away from the middle.
The X06 Marketplace is an upscale gourmet food store with features such as a Wine Cave and Chocolate Café. The store will have to make extensive use of technology, most
notably radio frequency identification (RFID), to make the store more interactive with shoppers.
With all its bells and whistles, X06 sounds like an upscale consumer’s dream. It doesn’t appear likely, however, that it is something that consumers in places such as New Orlean’s
Ninth Ward, Brooklyn’s Bedford Stuyvesant or many rural areas in Appalachia are ever likely to encounter.
Moderator’s Comment: Is the polarity in retail formats a reflection of what’s taking place in American society? How will polarity impact what retailers
and consumer goods manufacturers do in the future? –
George Anderson – Moderator