We are seeing a new and powerful wave of craft brand growth in every corner of the square. We recently saw the first billion-dollar exit of a craft brand when Unilever bought Dollar Shave Club, and the lessons learned from that success are still rippling out across the retail waters. People, and big brands, have taken notice -- not just of Dollar Shave Club, but of the robust craft brands of its kind gaining ever more ground.
Canadian online shopping is catching up to the rest of the world, and that may be bad for malls.
We are in a period that is bridging the old world with the new world. Just as John Fowles wrote that the Renaissance was "the green at the end of civilization's harshest winters", brands too are now poised to flourish after decades of being locked in a construct that made it difficult to blossom.
Ultimately, retailers need to make a decision on where they want to stand in relation to their consumers. Do they want to be perceived as a static entity in the changing landscape of modern retail, or instead lead the way towards a new high street experience?
Imagine that Canada is a retail store in which 100 people work. 10 managers make $80,000 per year. One manager of the 10 trumps them all: he gets over $190.000. The other 90 people -- a majority of whom are women -- work as salespeople and cashiers, or in the stock room. 45 of them make less than $30,000 per year. Many make less than $20,000 per year. This is the retail landscape in Canada.
Undoubtedly, the retail terrain will change, but retail jobs are here to stay. It is high time to look beyond the brands and the boardrooms, to how retailers of all kinds treat us. We are not numbers, nor are we disposable. We are workers, citizens, and people who matter.
The world is changing and so is the way we shop: boutiques have closed up and wholesale business for the most part has dropped significantly over the past few years. A new breed of entrepreneurs are cropping up, and they want to do it differently. They're going direct to the customer, cutting out the middleman, and building lean and mean vertical enterprises.
During a poor economy, it can be a challenge for a business to increase profitability as competition for the "cautious consumer" intensifies and there is increasing pressure on margins. But a recession offers the perfect opportunity to question the way things have always been done -- and drive out waste and inefficiency. One of Jim's favourite slogans is: "a crisis is a terrible thing to waste."
Marshalls showed up last year, as did J. Crew. Ann Taylor is planning to open its first store outside the U.S. in Toronto
This isn't just about the arrival of Target. The world of retail is often dramatic and competitive, but more than ever before there is a perfect storm brewing in the Canadian marketplace. This country already has more retailers than it knows what to do with and the sector continues to broaden.
We're hungry, thirsty and exhausted, but like acrobats we try on each piece of clothing with strategic manoeuvring. Our elbows, arms, and legs get a beating, and the static electrifies our hair. We wipe the fog off our glasses and look up to catch a glimpse of ourselves -- this is when things can go well or horribly wrong.