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Is the so-called retail apocalypse becoming reality?

Not really, according to The National Retail Federation (NRF). As the total market share of sales with “non-store” or online retailers continues to grow, the good news is that the retail industry is changing and evolving too.   

The fact is, despite challenging economic conditions and the online sector increasing in market share, the retail industry has seen continued growth over the past decade. The NRF reports that “…in-person retail sales have increased 4% annually since 2010.” Brick-and-mortar stores of all sizes still retain a value and fulfill an untapped need in the U.S. In fact, total online sales sum up to only 10% of all retail sales. According to IHL, a global research and advisory firm specializing in technology for the retail and hospitality industries, for every company that closes a store, 5.2 other companies are opening stores.

How does the overall increase in retail sales relate to talent acquisition and the continued need for industry talent? Kim Franchi, Retail Practice Director for Retail Search Group, A PrincetonOne Company states, “Our role as Executive Recruiters is even more important today than ever before. Our retail clients are asking us to dig deeper and understand more than just what a candidate shows on his or her resume. The buzz word in the retail industry is “customer experience.” Regardless of the product or position, ecommerce or brick-and-mortar; it’s all about the customer experience and what that means to the consumer.”

The NRF notes that the top 50 online retailers also operate physical store locations, indicating that companies are operating successfully in both spaces. Many physical store locations are also doubling as distribution centers for in-store pickup or local last-mile delivery, which is helping to drive foot traffic into physical stores from online sales.

“This is encouraging news for the retail industry,” says Franchi. “What we have learned with the new technologies is that there is still a need for physical location shopping experiences, which means that retailers have to continue to find ways to capture the customer at the moment of purchase or potentially lose them. Technology is the key to capturing and retaining customers today. Retailers who are not willing to make that a priority may put themselves in jeopardy of disappearing in the long run.”

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