Is the retail apocalypse coming? Based on the comments I see pretty much every day on LinkedIn and in emails, I'd say... yeah. It's already here, isn't it? Absolutely everyone but Amazon is going bankrupt, malls are a thing of the past, and everything from toilet paper to new tires for our car will start getting delivered to our front door. (Personally, I live in a condo and I don't think tires will fit in my mail slot.)
But that's what's happening, right? If you work in retail today, you better start researching careers at Amazon because in 5-10 years no one else will be around to hire anyone. Right?
Nope. Not in my view.
Retail is not going away. It's not going to be Amazon or nothing and it never will be. Yes, a lot of retailers who have been unable or unwilling to change with the times are closing some doors or going under altogether. We're seeing that at an alarmingly fast pace. Pretty much every week someone new is hanging up the closing banner (in at least some locations), whether it's Macy's, Sears, JC Penney, hhgregg, bebe, Guess, Crocs, Abercrombie & Fitch, The Limited, Wet Seal, BCBG, American Apparel, Payless, GameStop, Radio Shack, Family Christian, etc., etc., etc.
And yes, some malls are ghost towns, barely keeping the lights on. Like an individual retailer, if a shopping mall doesn't evolve with the changing times, they too will suffer the consequences.
But it's not all doom and gloom. If you work in retail, you don't HAVE to look at other career options, thinking there's no future here. It's simply not true. I skim through my LinkedIn feed every day and I see tons and tons of job postings every hour. Granted, I have accumulated 30,000 first-degree connections on there, so I'm bound to see a lot (read this to see how I did it). But you can do the same thing. There's nothing special about me - I just set aside some time each day for networking and it grew like crazy. (And keep in mind that many job opportunities aren't widely advertised.)
Most of the stores that are closing today will be replaced by new stores that are opening. Not all, of course. Retail is over-stored as they say, particularly in the United States, but new stores ARE in fact opening and many, many retailers are rapidly expanding. And where do you think tomorrow's job opportunities will come from? Many times, from these new stores. They have to staff them with someone, after all.
So let's look at the math. The retailers listed above have, or will, close about 2,800 stores combined. Yup, that's a hefty number. But 7-Eleven plans to open more than 11,000 new stores in the United States alone - about 4 times as many as the 2,800 or so listed above that are closing. Here is what their president said in a recent article: "Seven-Eleven Japan Co. expects to open thousands of new stores in the U.S., increasing its current tally of 8,500 to 20,000..."
So does your future career have to involve Slurpees and Big Gulps? Not necessarily. Here are some more:
That's just the big players. Check out my master list of 100+ growing retailers for many more. (Yes, even Amazon is opening stores!)
So yes, some stores are shuttering and some retailers are closing down completely, but there is still a very, very bright future in retail - after all, it's still one of the only industries where you can climb quite high, even without advanced education. All you need to do is be strategic with your career planning. Don't jump at just any opportunity that presents itself. Figure out who's innovative, who's going to grow, who's going to be around for the long haul.
Get in with a company that has a bright future, and so will you.
All the best!
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