The president and chief executive of the US-based National Retail Federation yesterday told an audience that retail was not dying.
At the Retail Congress Asia yesterday, Matt Shay was speaking at a forum that asked the broad-based question: what‘s next for the world‘s biggest consumer market?
Shay assured the audience that there is plenty of growth in retail but shopping habits are changing.
“Yes, there are stores closing. Always have been, always will be but retail is not dying,” he said.
US retail sales have shown unbroken growth since 2009 and 42 million people are directly employed in the US retail sector.
The dominant theme of Retail Congress Asia is that there is an acceptance that consumers the world over demand a seamless omnichannel experience, and the US is at the forefront of this.
Shay commented that there was no longer a discussion about as to whether change will take place: it has already happened.
Now the question is one of execution and implementation.
Shay contrasted the Wal-Mart purchase of Jet.com with Amazon‘s purchase of Whole Foods.
He said the Wal-Mart acquisition of Jet.com was one of the dominant US bricks-and-mortar retailers recognising its need to compete in the digital world and buying Jet.com facilitated this.
Meanwhile, Amazon‘s purchase of Whole Foods highlights that ecommerce companies see the need for a bricks and mortar presence.
Shay stated that the customer has to be at the centre of everything the retailer does.
He believes that the industry serves its clients well and that retail is “the most consumer-centric industry in the world”.