In the Netherlands, we're currently witnessing a new wave of bankruptcies among established Dutch main street retail chains. Every time I read an article about about the death of one of these often soulless entities (no shots to the people just trying to make a living behind the counters of these stores), I hear a familiar phrase in the back of my mind: fake news. Every article, and every person these articles quote, put the blame on millennials and their alleged internet addictions. Apparently, these damn kids just don't like stores, they'd rather just order everything online, not caring about the effects it has on the local economy. Sigh. To use another phrase made famous by him who shall not be named: wrong. For those who doubt me:
The first statistic couldn't be be clearer. Yes, it is a about clothes, but based on our experience and knowledge, this applies to most things, especially if you keep the second statistic in mind. What we mean by that, is that it is important that your store delivers an experience that feels good. And no, serving coffee isn't enough, although it certainly helps. You have to be authentic, you have to feel good about what you are selling (people notice), and people need to feel like they can trust you. In the age of information overload, people are looking for curators, and stores are perfect for that. We have witnessed this in our home city, Apeldoorn. We arrived three years after the financial crisis of 08, and the city center was visibly hurting. Since then however, more and more cool independent stores and authentic chains (which often grew out of single stores, which is always a great thing) have established themselves. They appear to be doing well, and if you ask me, they're doing well because they are delivering an experience that satisfy two core millennial cravings: the ability to align yourself with institutions, organizations and brands that feel like they authentically represent your values on a broader scale, and the need for personal relationships. We have seen the same in many other cities across the country and Europe (shoutout to the multiple CD stores in Arnhem defying the odds, we see you).
So yeah, retail isn't dead. Bad retail chains, that took our money because we didn't have alternatives, are. Even if the small to medium term fallout of a collapsing retail chain can be dramatic, the future of retail looks bright.
Marius | 1520
P.S. If you're a store or a chain that is looking to turn the ship around, we can help. Holla at us.