It ain't easy being a teen (retailer)

Carol's latest Retail Wire weigh-in on why teen retailers are falling out of fashion

Tech IS the new fashion and at the same time, traditional fashion is operating in a trend-less environment (quick, what is the hottest apparel trend for fall/winter 2014? I don't know either). There is simply no compelling reason to refresh the wardrobe or reverse the trade-off between togs and tech.

A larger deadly dynamic is at work that is by no means exclusive to teen retailers though: death by category killing. What was once a recipe for success, going deep and wide within a category, is now a perilous path for brick-and-mortar retailers. When opportunistic digital niche killers like Amazon (and the flies they either swat or eat, like Quidsi), take a focused fancy to a category, brick-and-mortar retailers have little recourse. Toys 'R' Us is in this hard place as are office retailers (hence the mergers and recent maniacal focus on category expansion through digital marketplaces).

Abercrombie just (finally) extricated Mike Jeffries, ending his mind-bogglingly long tenure at the top. Hopefully the new guy/gal addresses this inescapable reality through business model innovation rather than another wave of category or brand rejiggering.

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