Editor’s Note: Sunnier skies

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Editor’s Note: Sunnier skies

By Seth Mendelson - 06/06/2019
Boy, was I wrong — well, at least I hope so.

At the 2018 NACDS Annual Meeting, I was pretty certain that the mass retail industry I have come to know over the last 35-plus years was on the verge of a collective nervous breakdown.

A combination of digital retailing, changing consumer shopping patterns, and the simple fact that many said retail was just not as profitable as it once was, led me and many others to believe that our industry was on the verge of a complete meltdown. The result, many feared was that more and more chains would go out of business and many of the survivors would be left in a state of perpetual desperation.

Was the sky falling? Well, many people involved in retail said it could be.

What a difference a year makes. There was definitely a different feeling in the air at this year’s event, again at The Breakers Hotel in Palm Beach, Fla., in late April. No gloom and doom were present as retailers and suppliers seemed to agree that, in a very short time, many are coming to the grips with the fact that Amazon and its ilk simply are becoming another type of competition, and they can be dealt with in the same way as other retail operations.

Strong financial earnings and healthy stock prices are not hurting the situation either. Retailers are awash in optimism and those good feelings are encouraging many of the more progressive merchants to take the right steps to compete with their digital rivals on their own playing field and to make consumers feel more comfortable in their traditional stores.

Happy days, of course, can be fleeting. The mass-retail community must remain committed to doing all they can to stay ahead of the curve. Innovation absolutely is necessary as is staying aware of consumer demands and needs.

NACDS served its needs again, bringing the industry together both to discuss ideas on how to keep things moving in the right direction and to celebrate a great year through a great lineup of speakers and sessions and some very nice nighttime events. But, now the hard work starts and that means that retailers and their suppliers must develop more plans to keep the momentum moving forward.
The goal is simple: We need to make sure that the optimism felt at this year’s event is once again felt next year when we all meet again on the white, sandy beaches of South Florida.