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That's the Way the COOKie is Crumbling

By Sam Gray

I woke up earlier this week to the news that the longest-running travel firm, Thomas Cook, was the latest in a long list of casualties in the retail market - meaning 22,000 jobs were gone overnight!

With uncertainty circulating everywhere - Debenhams on the brink, Patisserie Valerie closing 71 shops, Steamer Trading selling all of their stores, and Jack Wills being bought by Sports Direct - what the hell is going on? 

Well, it's pretty simple to me - consumer habits just aren't the same anymore. 

As consumers tastes change, so must businesses and it seems Thomas Cook among many others have become almost too complacent on their reputation and perhaps innovation and modernisation which is something that drastically needs to be assessed. 

So, how can the market be saved?

Don't get me wrong it isn't easy at the moment: costs are rising, consumers are buying more and more online (e-commerce accounted for 20% of retail sales at the start of 2019), and there is a record level of discounting. 

We need to start getting on board with the new age of retail which is no longer a conversation of online vs. offline, but a seamless merger of the two. 

As online retailers such as Amazon start branching into the offline world, traditional retailers are in a race to up their game and provide a holistic customer experience in order to capture sales and market share. 

Certain retailers are getting it right already by closing old tired stores and launching a new wave of stores bringing new brands, new services and new experiences to the beleaguered high street. 

Retail needs to be all about experiences in-store to combine bricks and clicks with the store being a front face for consumers to see, feel and experience - something Apple & Samsung are doing very well. 

What does this mean I hear you say? Well, retail & the FMCG sector now HAS to start adapting to current trends otherwise, unfortunately, we will continue to lose some of the biggest UK brands across the globe. 

The collapse of 178-year-old tour operator Thomas Cook this week means around 550 of its UK shops will close, leaving property owners with vacant space and a sudden fall in rental income.

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