Meyers

HOLLYWOOD, FL-Expect retail stores to be more polarized, smaller, and more targeted, according to a speaker at ICSC’s Fusion Conference, being held here.

Forced to market to an overall audience that is both older and younger, richer and more cash strapped, and tech-savvy and decidedly not, retailers must adapt their approaches, layout and store sizes to accommodate an ever-growing dichotomy, said Al Meyers, senior vice president of business development of TNS Retail Forward, Plano, TX.”Retailing will change dramatically over the coming years, and by 2015, you won’t recognized the retail industry,” Meyers said.

As they age, Baby Boomers are shifting from buying products to focusing on travel and services, Meyers noted, even as Generation Yers are beginning to buy homes and have children. But Gen Y-ers have a different attitude about what should be the start of their peak spending years.

“The main problem is that they’re broke,” constrained by massive education loans, Meyers noted.

After the stock market nosedive of 2008, may boomers may not feel so well off, either, with many postponing retirement or working part time. While this will help retailers looking for employees, it will change which retailers succeed, where they locate and even their signage.

“Aging boomers are one of the most dramatic disruptive waves we’ll ever experience,” Meyers said.

Boomers will want smaller, closer stores that are easier to shop, with larger signage or lettering for convenience, Meyers warned. Yet they will be more connected to stores, brands and each other via technology, reducing the need for traditional brick-and-mortar formats. “We’ll have an endless supply of kiosks to offer unlimited supply,” Meyers said.

New opportunities to fill space may be found in local and regional retailers, and even product brands, which may be forced out of some stores as retailers push their own more profitable private labels.

In fact, stores will be only a part of the focus of any retail project.

“The space becomes the destination,” Meyers said.

According to ICSC, approximately 500 marketing, management and leasing professionals were preregistered for the meeting, a merger of the Fall Marketing and Specialty Retail conferences. Final attendance numbers are not yet available for the meeting, which concludes here tomorrow.