I’ve blogged about ubiquitisation – the process by which service firms grow and penetrate every geographic niche. But I’ve not discussed “de-ubiquitisation” i.e. chains withdrawing from markets and closing stores. But this is happening on a large scale, largely because of the growth of online retailing.
One of the most high profile examples is the winding up of BHS, which resulted in the closure of 164 stores and the loss of 11,000 jobs. One year on, two-thirds of these stores remained vacant. Other operators are also closing stores in order to remain viable. Marks & Spencer is planning to close 30 stores. Debenhams also has closures planned.
But if this looks serious in the UK, in the USA it is even more drastic – whole shopping malls are being closed, resulting in 89,000 lost jobs in six months. This reflects the fact that the US has five times more retail square footage per person than here in the UK. So many iconic American retail chains are reducing their penetration – Maceys, Sears, JCPenney, and Abercrombie & Fitch. Which is why some experts have dubbed this a ‘retail apocalypse’.