by Costanza Cerasi
The way we have always been accustomed to shopping is changing and therefor also the job as shop assistant or shop manager. Many stores are closing and the most striking sign of this is that only in the United States, one of the world’s fashion powerhouses, more than 6,375 establishments have shut down. The big chains of clothing are in crisis and are trying to limit the damages, checking and possibly renewing their strategies. The numbers speak for themselves and are four digits long. In fact, the retail industry could suffer much more store closures this year than ever before.
Shops are closing everywhere
In a research report published in early April 2017 by CNN, the brokerage firm Credit Suisse said that it is possible that more than 8,600 brick and mortar stores will close in 2017. As a comparison, the report notes that 2,056 stores closed in 2016 and 5,077 were closed in 2015. The worst year was recorded in 2008, when 6,163 stores were closed. If stores shut down the business at the rate that Credit Suisse is predicting, it could mean that the United States will lose more than 147 million square feet of retail space this year.
No brand appears to be excluded. Macy’s, Abercrombie & Fitch and Guess, JC Penny, Sears, Limited, American Apparel and Wet Seal, American Eagle all suffered from this crisis. According to an article in the August 15, 2017 issue of ED Digital Economy, in Spain the crisis has given Blanco and Caramelo the nickname in less than a year, while the French group Promod also had to announce the closing of half of its stores. The Dutch C&A closed 23 of its hundred establishments in Spain, and Cortefiel and Adolfo Domínguez are reducing costs, shops and staff.
Even in Italy, where fashion is not only part of the culture but also a historical recurrence, many of the shops are facing a period of crisis. Sara, who works in Rome’s biggest Yves Saint Laurent shop, shares some of her thoughts in a telephonic interview. “The business is definitely changing,” she said. “I’ve worked in assisting clients in shops for over 10 years now, and it’s only gotten worse.”
Amazon destroza puestos de trabajo y crea nuevos, pero peor pagados
This crisis is world wide and it is progressing at an unprecedented rate. Even the technological industry is somehow being brought down by this crisis. An example of this is the tech store Radio Shack, which closed most of its stores due to Amazon’s online distribution of its products. Why is all of this happening? According to an article published by the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera, there are three major factors underlying such dramatic conditions. The first and possibly the most influential is the growth in e-commerce, second comes the competition and last but not least the rising rent prices for shops.
“Most of the times people come to the shop with pictures in their phone of products they saw our website,” said Sara. “If it were possible to try outfits online then no one would actually come out of their houses to shop.” Strategists are looking for solutions in order to bring order back and get customers out of the screens and back to shops, however this process will be long and complex and at this point, nothing can guarantee its success.
“Ten, six, even 5 years ago, you would see people walking into stores together and enjoying that moment, it was a socializing opportunity,” said Sara. “Now when people walk in they are rushing and impatient.” Getting used to shopping on the web is probably the most crucial cause of what could be leading to shops being on the brick of extinction. It is slowly deteriorating its social component and reducing it to being strictly practical.