Roulston Retail Partner Dick Seesel on the Future of Big Box

October 2, 2012

Over the coming years numerous analysts believe that retailers will keep moving toward a wall-less omni-channel environment with brand experience ranging from in-store, online, and multimedia in a seamless transition. In addition, retailers will move toward smaller, urban, and alternative retail store formats instead of the traditional one size fits all stores big box stores that we are accustomed to especially with the widening demographic and income gaps in the United States. The new Retailing 2020 report from PwC US and Kanter Retail predicts that annual growth levels for mass merchants over the next several years will remain close to current levels with 1/3 of that coming from increases in online sales. They also predict that discounter will continue to obtain market share of grocery at the expense of traditional food, drug and mass merchants. Dick Seesel isn’t so sure stating, “I don’t agree with the premise that combination food/discount stores are doomed (both Target and Walmart are both committed to the food and consumables businesses), but the giant footprint under one roof may be another story. On the other hand, the “category killer” big box store (toys, electronics, and office equipment) is definitely struggling with the effects of technology on its business. Think about Best Buy, Staples and Toys “R” Us as examples: Both Amazon and the discounters provide plenty of price and assortment competition. More importantly, many of these stores are still devoting space to products (CDs, DVDs, printers and paper) that are quickly losing steam with consumers. It pays for stores like Best Buy to keep rolling out small-footprint stores focused on a single category like mobile.” To read the full article please visit

Richard Seesel is the Manager and owner of Retailing In Focus, LLC. He was most recently a Senior Vice President and Divisional Merchandise Manager at Kohl’s Department Stores. Dick is proud to have helped Kohl’s grow from 18 stores to a national retail powerhouse, during an era of change and consolidation throughout the retail industry.

One Response to “Roulston Retail Partner Dick Seesel on the Future of Big Box”

  1. Bob Anderson Says:

    I would agree with Mr. Seesel, that Wal-Mart, Target and Kroger share of market (now est at 1/3 of the food & consumables business), will hit 50% in the next few years. The issue is, as I see it with the mix within these boxes and the profit they generate. The supercenters were never structured to do the percent to total of food (52-56%) that they are now doing. While Target has had a good level of success with their “P- Fresh Formats”,Wal-Mart attempts to try smaller formats such as the Neighborhood Markets have proven semi succesful. As for Wal-Marts Express Stores, they all ready closed one and for many reason I dont think the majority of the others will make it. So I not sure that the size is the issue, but whats inside the counts. Mr. Seesel is right again, that stores such as Best Buy, Staples, Toys R Us and other did not have the vision nor did they change as life styles and trends did, but this has been the fate of many retailers and manufactures such as Wards, Kodak, etc.
    As for small stores, I guess the best lesson I ever had was from Will Von Der Ahe, who was concerned when he opened the first Vons Grocery Stores ” Value Center”, that he didn’t want to see a store get to far out of its core business and more importantly not to get so big, that if times or business changed, that labor, service and profits would suffer.
    Is the next big battle ground for retail online? It looks that way, but I would caution one here, that online is not a one size fits all either, and many folks still like to walk,touch, shop and buy in a store. Just look at how many have a hard time switching from books to e-readers.

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