How about cat food? Pots and pans? Cleaning supplies? Amazon again? Why not, it's convenient!
But did you know, according to a recent study by the Dunnhumby Retailer Preference Index, the 600lbs gorilla in the hard-hit retail space is now America’s most popular grocery store? I didn't either.
When coupled with over 10,000 stores expected to close this year, representing a 14% uptick from 2020's already horrifying levels (per Coresight Research), the need to rethink globalism in favor of more localized and sustainable consumerism is not only clear. It's urgent.
Since its inception, online commerce has shown itself to be a grotesquely extractive model.
In the past year, the evidence has become all but impossible to ignore. Citizens and communities suffered even as e-retailers' stock went through the roof. All while online spending on everything from groceries to clothing rose, fed by government stimulus checks that have done little or nothing to keep local economies going.
Sustainability having become the topic du jour for everyone from the UN to investors to exclusive panels at Davos, it is gratifying and of little surprise to find consumerism discussed in the same sentence - despite appearing to be at odds with the basic premise of the 2030 SDG goals.
Envisioned by all countries working in concert to promote prosperity while protecting the planet, the 17 sustainable development goals are an interlocking framework that recognizes that ending poverty goes hand-in-hand with strategies that build economic growth and address a range of social needs including education, health, social protection, and job opportunities.
All this, while tackling climate change and environmental protection.
Certainly, consumerism as the idea of people purchasing goods on a mass scale from producers, often multinationals accused of unfair business practices conflicting with sustainable manufacturing and fair wage regulations, may be viewed as encouraging of unethical corporate behavior.
Fortunately, reality is never so simple. Rethinking (our favorite subject at this site), comes in with the emergence of holistic approaches to meeting the increasing demand of a growing population connected by virtue of the world wide web to multiple sources of immediate gratification.
Transparency and shortening of supply chains, more localized yet equally convenient online shopping options (some with unique, impact-centric twists), multi-brand loyalty schemes are coming into view – all the way to replacing straight-up purchasing with product-as-a-service.
As yet, none of these solutions are anywhere close to dominating the market or even capturing a significant share. But, with both newcomers to the field (Stitch Fix, looking at you!) and corporates like HP and Caterpillar dipping their toes in the water, this points to a shift in consumer sentiment that makes these refreshed models a risky, albeit attractive alternative to business as usual.
All I can say as a technology provider whose only horse in the race (while making sure our own principles do not stray from the goals baked into our mission statement) these seismic changes to hardening and equalizing the greater retail space can't become the norm fast enough!
Our neighborhoods where we meet our daily needs need this rethinking. Every such incursion on our common good needs this rethinking.