Some Accurate Forecasts
Many long time readers of this blog know that I am one of the few futurists who posts his forecasts for all to see on my web site.
In this post I take a look at some forecasts that are topical and relevant to current news reporting.
December 2013: “In the U.S. 2012 will prove to be the high point of the Black Friday event in the physical retail space as ever more spending moves on-line”.
This has proven to be true. The 2013 and 2014 Black Friday sales numbers in physical retail were down from 2012 and we now know that the trend has continued for 2015. The trumped up insanity of Black Friday is fully in decline in physical retail. The growth of on-line shopping is the single biggest reason for this. In fact it turns out that 2015 will be the first year that on-line holiday shopping is larger than physical shopping. This is a significant milestone. In addition the percentage of purchases on mobile devices has dramatically increased since this forecast
The second reason is that there is widely available data showing that the “Black Friday deals” are really no better, and in many cases, worse than at other times of the year. We are seeing the end of this trumped up shopping event. Only those that like the contact sport aspect of it will stay in the game.
January 2011: “The bricks and mortar retail industry and therefore retail real estate, will undergo the greatest transformation in the next 10 years since the introduction of the automobile.
Well this is clear by now. There have been a number of older malls that have closed around the U.S. in the past couple of years. It is hard not to see closed big box stores with empty parking lots in every city. The U.S. is over-retailed, particularly when increasingly a good “location” for shopping is being in front of a screen. This is just part of the larger trend to moving from a place based sense of self and society to a space based one. Increasingly the best location is being on a hand held screen.
October 2008: “Thrift will be the New Cool”
This is relative to the above two forecasts. Ever since the Great Recession people increasingly shop when something is on sale, which seems to be every week or every month. In addition shopping at resale shops has become cool, certainly among the young. Both the number of resale stores and the total revenue of the industry has grown substantially since this forecast was made. Of course Amazon has completely retrained us as shoppers to check there first before buying almost anything. Prime membership with Amazon is the pure manifestation of this trend.
Combine these last two forecasts and you have the depressing reality that is the apparel industry. Both aging Baby Boomers and Millennials are making the decision to spend more on experiences than merchandise. Experiences not usually purchased in physical retail locations.
Airbnb is an example of a company that has successfully exploded since this forecast was made. Cheaper rooms or apartments versus more expensive hotels and with local flavor. Uber is a huge success in large part as it is cheaper than taxis and in the case of city dwellers, can be cheaper that all the costs of owning and maintaining a car in the city.
October 2010: Developed countries of the world will increasingly move from an ownership to a rental society this decade
Since this forecast was made, rental housing has increased and home ownership has decreased. We no longer buy DVDs, we pay for Netflix or some other streaming service. We no longer buy CDs, or even MP3 files, instead we subscribe to Spotify. We subscribe to Amazon Prime and get free books to read and free first run shows, movies and old programs to watch.
February 2008: We now have “smart phones. In the years ahead everything will become “smart”: clothing, infrastructure and our homes. All will be connected.
At the time this forecast was made people didn’t really believe that we would be wearing smart watches, clothing and using smart thermostats. These smart personal items will be one of the biggest categories this holiday season. The quantified self and the measurement of one’s body functions is now commonplace as will be smart apparel. The Internet of Everything is bringing intelligence to all our appliances and with ever increasing Big Data triggered knowledge. Just ask Siri!
As a futurist I try my best to alert and prepare society and businesses for what is ahead. Please again check out my posted forecasts.