The Ever-Changing Retail Landscape

May 08, 2017

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The other night, I got treated to a lovely dinner at The Polo Bar - Ralph Lauren's restaurant in New York City. Everything at this restaurant has Ralph's touch on it, from the decor to the food to the smallest of details. Just when sitting at the table, I caught myself admiring the salt & pepper shakers!

The Polo Bar is right off of Manhattan's Fifth Avenue, and it was anchored by the Polo Ralph Lauren flagship. Before going to the restaurant, I knew this Polo store was going to close. In turn, I had to explore it one more time!

Little did I know, this really would be my last time...

It was the middle of April, so I thought I would be back the following week. I planned on meeting with a friend, and we would shop and then grab a coffee at Ralph's Coffee (the coffee shop inside the Polo Ralph Lauren flagship). Sadly, I missed the mark. The entire store - although the restaurant remains open - had already closed.

What I found so fascinating about this is that it was not the end of the month, which is when most retailers will close their doors since that is often when the lease is up. That's not all though. After sulking in the fact my go-to fashion spot was closed, I caught myself looking around Fifth Avenue - there were other stores that had also shuttered their doors.

This closing of retailers is not all that new, but it seems to be happening more and more. Some blame the Internet, others on Amazon and others on the Millennials, but I don't necessarily think that is the entire story.

Take my Ralph Lauren example. Ralph Lauren was creating an experience - from the restaurant to the store to the coffee shop. He was working to create a destination, a place for customers to go to get a slice of Ralph Lauren that was different from just purchasing something from his brand.

I do believe he was on the right track, although, his closing of this location is most likely due to other reasons, including over-saturation, which we are seeing in the marketplace where retailers were so focused on growth (and in many cases pleasing shareholders) they grew and grew without thinking or wanting to realize there would be a cap on expansion.

The other obstacle I see in the retail landscape is a loss of retailer identity. There are brands "drawing inspiration" from others, and it seems to be coming full circle where there isn't necessarily anything new in the stores just copies and interpretations of "interpretations".

The beauty of retail is that it is meant to be constantly changing and evolving - it has to in order to survive. In turn, I'm looking forward to what the next year, next five years will bring. Of course, I will miss enjoying a hemp milk latte and talking all things fashion with my friends at Ralph's Coffee, but I'm certain, something new and possibly something completely different will pop up.

Stay tuned - the next retail chapter is certain to begin soon.

- Aimee 

P.S. With the first Monday in May having already come and gone, see what goes on behind-the-scenes of the Met Gala by watching the documentary The First Monday in May.



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