2009 was a tumultuous year for US Retailers. We entered the year in the throws of a recession that resulted in the bankruptcy of Circuit City. The ongoing economic challenges kept the likes of Gordon Brothers Group busy as they helped numerous retails close stores and liquidate assets.
While it wasn’t fun, we’ve clearly been over retailed in the US for some time. The economic climate created a unique opportunity for many retailers to slow their expansion plans, trim underperforming stores, and generally get more healthy without raising the ire of their public markets.
And there is some reason for optimism as well, many retailers continued to innovate.
David Porter’s team at Microsoft developed a new retail concept, and opened their first two stores. Systemmax purchased the CompUSA brand, and under Gilbert Fiorentino developed a new ‘web-enabled’ bricks and mortar store concept and began opening new stores. Brandsmart opened a new LEED certified flagship store in Buford Georgia with some revolutionary new customer experiences. Barry Judge established Best Buy as a true innovator in retail social networking with the launch of @twelpforce, bestbuyideax.com, and other initiatives.
A late holiday surge (aided by an extra shopping day) pushed holiday sales slightly above expectations, a clear improvement over the dismal 2008 holiday season.
It was also a busy year for me, personally. I spent 120 days on the road in 2009, doing 28 separate trips. I conducted over 400 store visits with clients. Store staff, peers, clients, regional management, and shoppers taught me so much about how people want to shop… I fear it will take a lifetime to put it all in practice. The good news is that I’m up for the challenge!
So as we begin 2010, my professional resolution is to share more of my thoughts and leanings here and on my twitter feed (@retailgeek). The year starts very fast in CE Retail with The International CES Jan 7-10, so expect to see my recap here before the end of January.
In the mean time, drop me a line and let me know what has you excited about our industry. What are you looking forward to in 2010?