Hardware Retailing

MAR 2018

Hardware Retailing magazine is the pre-eminent how-to management magazine for small business owners and managers in the home improvement retailing industry.

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Upcoming Events HARDWARE RETAILING | March 2018 98 Newsmakers Find more details about these events and others online at TheRedT.com/calendar. To have your event added, contact Kate Klein at kklein@nrha.org. March 15-17 Ace Hardware Spring 2018 Convention & Exhibits Dallas 23-24 Blish-Mize Spring Buying Market Overland Park, Kansas April 11-13 Wallace Hardware Co. Inc., Spring Dealer Market Pigeon Forge, Tennessee 14-17 Home Hardware Market St. Jacobs, Ontario May 8-10 National Hardware Show ® Las Vegas 8-10 NRHA All-Industry Conference Las Vegas 18-21 Do it Best Spring Market Indianapolis July 27-29 United Hardware Buying Market Minneapolis Upcoming Events 3 Counterpoints to the 'Retail Apocalypse' M any news reports suggest retail is headed for its ultimate demise, and it's often referred to as the "retail apocalypse." With the news of store closures, bankruptcies and layoffs coming almost daily, that's an easy conclusion to come to. However, according to Mark Mathews, vice president of research development and industry analysis at the National Retail Federation (NRF), the data doesn't add up to an impending Armageddon. In fact, he says the retail sector has made remarkable strides in adapting to what he calls a "fundamental shift" in the way consumers shop. "The consumer doesn't see the channel anymore," Mathews says. "They just want to buy in the most convenient way." Mathews says retailers who have successfully bridged into omnichannel sales have focused on that shift in how people shop and have made it easier for consumers to access what they need. This ease of shopping contributed to sales growth during the 2017 holiday season. Retail sales grew 5.5 percent over the holidays, including both online and brick-and-mortar sales, according to NRF data. Mathews says despite that growth, the myth of the retail apocalypse is still strong. Hardware Retailing spoke to Mathews to find out why the retail apocalypse theory doesn't pan out, and he offered three compelling counterpoints. 1. The labor statistics aren't an accurate representation of retail workers. Every month, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics publishes a report on retail employment. Mathews says that if that number is down, it's seen as proof of the industry's downfall. However, Mathews says those numbers only include employees of establishments where retail sales actually occur, not warehouses, distribution centers or headquarters affiliated with retail companies. "They're only capturing a small portion of retail workers," Mathews says. "The jobs situation for retail is not nearly as bleak." 2. Amazon isn't killing retail; it is retail. Mathews says some of the fastest growing online retailers are traditional brick-and-mortar businesses, and 9 out of 10 online businesses have stores. "If you don't have the ability to compete in store and online, then it's going to be difficult," he says. "It's not about Amazon, it's about a fundamental shift in the way we purchase things." 3. Sensationalism feeds the narrative. People have a nostalgic bond to retail locations, so when they hear a store is closing or going bankrupt, it furthers the retail apocalypse idea, Mathews says. "It's national news when a retail store goes bankrupt, and it resonates with us because we think, 'Oh, I used to shop there,'" Mathews says. "In 2016, the top 10 bankruptcies weren't retailers. There's certainly a degree of that going on, but on a national level, we don't see much of a reduction in the number of stores." Mark Mathews is the vice president of research development and industry analysis at the National Retail Federation. In his role at NRF, Mathews is responsible for helping develop, evaluate and direct the research initiatives for NRF's Retail Research and Analysis Center. He has more than 20 years of experience in various research roles.

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