Yes, all those and more.
But, what about the "stealth competitors" affecting every retailer – whether you are selling apparel, furniture, motorcycles, books, smart phones, or whatever?
These competitors are hiding in plain sight. And, in our view, they significantly impact – and reduce – retail sales.
What are they? The monthly recurring charges that support our digital lifestyle.
Just think about it:
- There are the monthly cell phone data plans, for every member of the household. (Yes, even the grade schoolers. And, maybe even Grandma & Grandpa.)
- Then, the monthly cable TV charges.
- Plus, the monthly charges for high speed internet access in your home.
- Of course, there are the monthly charges for "streaming" online entertainment services, such as Netflix, Amazon, now Wal-Mart, and others.
- And, monthly online access to newspapers, magazines, etcetera
For many households, these monthly charges can add up to hundreds of dollars! And today, essentially no one can avoid them; they are treated like another "utility" charge. Is it any wonder consumers feel like they have less "spending money"?
The High Cost of Connectivity: Erosion of Retail SpendingAll of this connectivity comes at a cost to retailers. Money that is being dedicated to these monthly enabling charges is not available to be spent "at retail."
- Traditional "disposable income" is significantly eroded. And that happens every month, essentially out of sight. And to almost every household.
- Overall retail sales, by definition, are reduced. That is, "retail spending" tracks sales of merchandise, not services.
So, given the stealth competition of enabling our digital life, can Holiday retail sales meet the predictions of some prognosticators to be up 4%-5% over last year? If so, that would represent quite a feat.
Or, more likely, consumer spending will be up, but... spending on what?!