A consortium of industry heads from major players met at the Harvard Club to discuss the future of retail and the "New Normal." As its projections approach $1 trillion (yup, that's trillion), Wal-mart leads the pack.
Wal-mart board member Allen Questrom, whose tenure includes stints at the helm of Neiman Marcus, Barneys, Federated Department Stores and JC Penney, commended brands like Old Navy, Ann Taylor and Uniqlo for selling to "real people" and making offerings more casual and accessible. Other factors like slow growth and aggressive restructuring, rather than minor cosmetic shifts in business, were cited as keys to retail success. He should know, with Wal-mart revenues exceeding $400 billion last year.
Representing a higher-end niche, Saks chairman and CEO Stephen Sadove emphasized the opportunities a recession presents for improvement, noting his company's strategy of creating urgency and demand, as well as their accomplishment of cutting $135 million from costs in the last year.
It's definitely an ongoing process, and from what the bigwigs all said, it seems that one thing is clear: stabilization, then recovery is imminent for retail, but retailers must be proactive and, along with consumers, patient.