It's Throwback Thursday!


30 years ago the generation we now know as "Millennials" were taking their first steps into gaming. So if their biggest want in Jan of '88 was to get home to play Mario Brothers or Sonic, what does business need to know about their outlook now?

In a year-end interview with the CBC, Willy Kruh, Global Chair for KPMG​'s Consumer and Retail Practice, validated something that a lot of us instinctively knew already: retail is in for a serious shake-up.

Mr. Kruh predicts that despite the economy being strong, consumer confidence being high and both stocks and real estate strengthening, the US is on-track to lose between 8,500-9,000 retail locations in 2018. 

That’s the highest number of closures in US history. And the shocker? It’s not Mom and Pop shops that will account for the majority of the closures. 

“This has been happening for a few years now, but we have reached a tipping point where larger well-known chains are being impacted.” He said, pointing to Toys R’ Us, Macy’s and HBC.  

He sees the following factors as decisive in the coming year:

• The rise of Millennials;

• New Technologies;

• Geography and Geopoloitics.

Within a few years Millennials will overtake the rest of us as the largest group of consumers, and they are looking for a different product than their parents. They tend to skew one of two ways: the best quality for the lowest price or locally sourced products with a meaningful story. 

Chamber Members like CoCo & KaBri​ and Work n' Play​ are already way ahead of this curve. With brands like Milk Jar Candle Company​, Nellie's All Natural Laundry Detergent, Mellow Walk Footwear​ and Laurentian Chief Canadian Made Moccasins & Mukluks​ folks can pick up high quality, Canadian-made products with their own unique story or social cause. These kinds of value-adds that are increasingly meaningful – and necessary – when selling to Millennials. 

Another Chamber member well ahead of the trend is Spragg's Meat Shop​. They understand the folks care – and will pay a premium – for free range, pasture-raised, ethically cared for meats. In fact they are so popular they have expanded beyond Rosemary, having opened their first retail location in Calgary. In fact, their new location is doing so well in won the 2017 The Calgary Chamber of Commerce​'s Environmental Stewardship Award.

Unlike a lot of small retailers, 42nd Street Clothing​ is well positioned in the online arena with their new e-commerce webpage Not only can folks shop from home, they can select the outfits and sizes they want to try on and have them waiting for them in a fitting room when they arrive at the store. In today’s busy lives, getting in and out matters. And they understand that customer’s time is a non-renewable resource. 

From value picks to non-conflict diamonds, consumers are increasingly passionate about where their products come from and the conditions that exist in order to bring them to market. Things like fair trade, social responsibility and Made-in-Canada will matter this year more than in 2017. 

The take-away for Chamber members? Folks want an authentic experience, merchandise or services with a meaningful story. Your delivery of customer service should blend a high level of product knowledge with an understanding of the average person’s busy daily schedule. And above all - don't forget to tell your personal story. 

Looking for some inspiration from across the country? Check out this article, “The Miracle on Main Street,” in the Globe and Mail.

Posted on:
Thursday, January 04, 2018