A great short and sweet summary of where retail was and where it is going as written by Josh Leibowitz at McKinsey. Read the entire article at this link.
How Did We Get Here? A Short History of Retail
by Josh Leibowitz- a McKinsey Partner specializing in travel & retail
We're living in a time of incredible change. ClichÃ©, yes, but true all the same. Every once in a while, I like to step back and think where this all came from. I'm a bit of a history buff, but it's also useful to get a little perspective about current events in retail. Nothing like looking back to help you see the future better.
The slide above lays out the five remarkable periods in the recent history of retail (over the past 100 years or so). Here’s a cursory overview:
Local culture – the Corner Store: 1900s
If you start back from the 1900s, local corner stores dominated retail. There were some catalogs, but the overwhelming shopping experience was at the corner store. People walked to the store to get the basics. Choice was limited. In some of the bigger cities, you could find more but you were basically limited by what you could carry back to your home.
Mass modernization culture – Department store: 1900 – 1940
While the automobile hit the streets at scale in the 1920s, it wasn't really until the 1940s when the automobile was mainstream (in US culture, at least). With the automobile, people could go farther and carry more. At the same time, in-home refrigeration allowed shoppers to stock more. Retail moved from local corner stores to general merchants and department stores.
Suburban culture – Mall: 1950s – 1970s
The population boom and the explosion of suburbia led to open air malls, strip centers, and mass retailers. This was the time of the true mall, as well as the heyday of the TV ad.