Dec 2012 is almost here. It’s certainly been the end of the world for some of the UK’s best-loved retail brands.

And wait, what’s that? Now we have a highly unstable COMET to contend with too! Oh no! If I were you I’d get your running shoes on.

Oh, but then again… umm… where do we go for those, now?

Facetiousness and doomsday predictions aside, this is not shaping up to be a good year for retail: at all.

By as early as JUNE this year we had already lost 47 Brands, threatening the future of 3,673 individual stores and a staggering 44,402 jobs! (

But for many who have experienced the murky inner workings and deeply ingrained plodding pace of change – worthy of an arthritic brontosaurus – inherent in much of the sector over the last 10 years, none of this comes as much of a surprise.

I’ve spent 12 years pulling my hair out at the inexplicable, blinkered reluctance of senior management within some of these businesses to take seriously the seismic changes taking place in consumer behavior. I’d be inclined to say that, given the absence of strategic foresight and a willingness to do something about it, these implosions were nothing short of inevitable. In fact, the bottom line is that they were in fact self-inflicted.

How many marketing managers, directors, CEOs, MDs and COOs have stood by for most of the last 10 years doing literally nothing to fundamentally restructure these businesses to best take advantages of these trends?

I’ve written on the subject numerous times, but now the plop is really starting to hit the fan in a big way. Sadly, I think we are far from seeing the end of this. For many I now think it’s probably too late to turn around the oil tanker. You can’t reverse ten plus years of institutionalised denial in 6 months.

Maybe it’s not all bad though. Whilst the pain on the high street is horrible to watch and we all feel for the jobs of those affected by the closures, perhaps, as consumers at least, we can take some small comfort from the lessons of the past.

When the dinosaurs spectacularly checked out – I believe a Comet was involved that time too – they left behind a void; or to look at it another way, an opportunity; possibly the biggest of all time.

Gradually, as we know, a plethora of smarter, nimbler, smaller and better-adapted beasts emerged to inherit the radically re-shaped landscape.

I can’t help wondering if we are about to witness something similar. Could it be that successful retail business of the future might just have to become warmer-blooded, more intelligent and more socially focused creatures in order to survive?

Kind of a nice thought, isn’t it?

Ps. While I’m thinking, we won the DADI award ( for ‘best integrated marketing campaign’ last night for our work with Weber Barbeques over the last 4 years.

View the case study online at