I can’t imagine anyone wanting to go into the retail business today. If the malls are lucky enough to be crowded, they’re giving the merchandise away at deeply discounted prices. Black Friday seems to be have been included in pricing strategies for the rest of the year. BOGO deals are all over the place and I see menswear deals as cheaply as 70 percent off. I think, as members of the public, we now expect prices to be so attractive in order to lure us into the physical environment of shopping. I now dislike it immensely. In a season of goodwill to all men, manners seem to take a back seat starting in the parking lot – people take pleasure in reversing out of a spot before ascertaining whether it’s safe to do so if you’re in another car or just walking behind. And inside is no different. It’s closer to a rugby scrum than shopping. The stores seem to save on margins by saving on staff because when you’ve finally gathered all your purchases to your chest you stand like an imbecile looking for someone to pay and beat a hasty retreat. It’s little wonder that doing it all from your living room, at the touch of a button is now so appealing – feet up, adult beverage by your elbow and go wherever you’d like with no impediment to progress. Not very ‘Christmassy’, I’ll admit – the fat man can come down our chimney empty-handed, as everything has been delivered previously in brown boxes with a blue smile. Even our grandson is under no illusions anymore as he pooh-poohs the very idea of Santa and The Elf on the Shelf – he wrote an article for his grade’s newspaper (surprise, surprise) taking an almost mathematical approach to disprove his existence. Cookies and milk consumed from millions of houses equal sufficient calories to obviate the chance of negotiating chimneys and time taken per visit to each roof of said millions of houses would take a year, not a night. Fortunately, my grandson still enjoys the feeling of the house being decorated for Christmas so there’s still a twinkle of anticipation in his eyes. The speed of his growing up mirrors the comfort with which he accepts new things and ideas. It takes me a little while longer as I look at the changing face of our industry. One always looks at it from the framework of our own experiences and pace of change. When you start listening to new users of anything to do with transportation, the necessity of personally buying a car gets more and more remote – especially for city dwellers. Getting around in New York or London is as easy as the nearest bus stop or subway, cabs or Uber. New users are more interested in flexible utility than pride of ownership of some sexy new model in the driveway and manufacturers are spending fortunes on mapping out where, how and when this new audience of consumers will exert their marketing preferences. Meanwhile, dealers are looking at newer and newer ways to reach potential buyers using data to predict who and how and what they’ll buy. The bigger group companies are teaming up with technology companies to keep abreast of the marketing curve. Fleet companies are rethinking strategies left and right, extending the “flexible fleet” mentality to differently thinking customers. And used-car dealers will have to be as agile in dealing with the shifts seen around them. It behooves their associations to not only keep them informed, but also perhaps help to develop national technologies to stay ahead. Even the buy-here, pay-here community, already under stress from the likes of the CFPB, may have to become the ‘use-here, pay-here’ suppliers. Maybe Santa will use an autonomously driven sleigh or drop presents down chimneys from drones. Rudolf and his deer friends can be put out to grass and the elves will build to pre-order. In any event I wish all our readers a safe and Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year to come.
The High Price of Ink
My wife has been keeping something from me. She normally shops for stuff we use at home – you know, the utilitarian things that make a house tick and you…
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