From the Publisher: Good cheer to all

The holiday season is always a good time to wish for things. Here is my list for the mass retail industry.

As always there is a lot to wish for this holiday season. Here are a few of the things I hope happens in the retail industry over the next few months.Seth Mendelson

JCPenney either finds a savior to turn the chain around or gets put out of its misery—The Plano, Texas-based company has been slowly (perhaps not so slowly) dying on the vine for years now. With little hope in sight for a recovery, one has to wish that the chain mercifully goes away over the next year, allowing other, more savvy retailers to take its place. There is a place in America for a mid-tier softgoods retailer. Over the past five years or so, JCPenney’s top management showed they were not the answer.

Kmart honors its employees—The long-struggling chain needed some good publicity to get a kick-start on the holiday season. So what does it announce in early November? That its store will stay open for 41 straight hours, beginning at 6 a.m. on Thanksgiving morning. Sure some knuckleheads will be there at that ungodly hour and throughout Turkey Day, but are a few extra dollars worth the misery it will cause its employees? Think about that.

Safeway finds a customer for its Dominicks’ stores—The giant supermarket chain is simply too good of a merchandiser to have to suffer for long with Dominicks. The fact is Chicago is an extremely unique market, one that prefers independent retailers with their own unique marketing strategies to big chains and their cookie-cutter approaches. Hopefully, for its employees in Chicagoland, Safeway finds a buyer for most of its approximate 80 Dominicks’ stores in the region that will keep these workers employed and come up with a successful strategy. Meanwhile, notch this up as a victory for independent grocery stores.

Lower fuel prices are here to stay—Nothing, and I mean nothing, will kick-start the economy like significantly lower fuel prices at the pump. Higher prices take money out of the market and impacts retail sales dramatically. Conversely, lower prices put more money in the consumers’ pocket and much of that dough goes to purchases at mass retail outlets. As of this writing in mid-November, gas prices were down to around $3 in some parts of the country and falling fast. If this continues, it should help build consumer confidence. We all know what comes next?

The grocery industry learns how to compete with Amazon.com and friends—Recently there seems to be some cracks in the very thick armor of Amazon. But this is a very formidable competitor that will eventually turn its mighty resources directly to the grocery industry and its billions in sales. Retailers must develop strategies that will combat Amazon digitally and traditionally. To me that means offering shoppers more reasons to visit the store. That should include competitive pricing, but more importantly an overall more satisfying shopping experience.

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