AGFS: The Condition Retail's Condition is in

Just returned (okay, semi-returned; I’m in Chicago O’Hare), from the Store 2009 retail conference in Toronto and still suffering from a bit of what I’ll call “Anyone’s Guess Fatigue Syndrome.” And this past week did nothing to pull me out of it . . . in fact, it got worse as I pored over my piled up reading and took in various presos.  The rap goes something like this

There are “signs” that “we may have hit bottom” or then again, “we may not have seen the worst yet” though “any recovery” may be “slow in coming” or might take a period of “up to 3-5 years” or “well into 2010 at the earliest.” In the meantime, know that the shopper is very much in charge and she won’t likely return to previous habits no matter how well she’s doing . . . The habits she will adopt when the sun shines are . . . well they just won’t be the same, okay? 

Hey, but don’t back off on marketing or you’ll really be sorry . . . after all, market share gains are there for the taking!  What kind of marketing? Well, you’d better have a social media plan . . . I mean that’s obvious, right?  Just because you've exchanged the scalpel for a hatchet doesn't mean that you don't keep exploring!  What?  . . . Okay, show of hands . . . You're not in social media?? If nothing else, ramp some kind of Facebooky, Twitterish combo with an open brand forum thrown in that will keep it  real with your shopper peeps and message authenticity . . . well KIND OF open . . . Do use a third party screener to make sure no one talks about pricing!

 Us?  Well, WE took a stand, even as we trembled in our boots!  Yep, Brent from HR is now our Director of Bleeding Edge Media and he is all over . . . well, ALL OF IT . . . when he has the time.  What else are WE doing to make things happen?  Well, of course you know our numbers are in a death spiral (unless you've been living in a cave!) but we still say, invest in your people, prepare for the "new normal" and it’ll be over soon . . . well, soon when measured in geologic time anyway. Okay, any questions?

Why are retail pundits in print and in person proffering so much noncommittal, observational anti-insight these days? Is everyone THAT terrified of recession-era solutions . . . or is anyone equipped?  Stay tuned.