Trend watch: The rumours of retail's death have been greatly overstated

In a world dominated by change, innovation is not optional, it is a requirement.


Innovate or die.


As technology seeps more and more into our everyday lives, that has been the message from the new economy to the old. In some ways it’s true, but in others it’s overly simplistic.

One industry that has been at the forefront of this innovation reckoning has been bricks-and-mortar retail. And one key strand in this narrative has been the idea that the likes of Amazon and co – with their super-powered e-commerce offerings – would eat all competition.


What really happened was these traditional retailers – the Macy’s and the JB Hi-Fi’s of the world – just tweaked their offerings. They didn’t get steamrolled. They innovated, and they’re far from dead.


The other weird part about the end of retail narrative has been the coronavirus pandemic. For one, with the pandemic creating elevated levels of unemployment, a dour economic outlook and declining business confidence, across the globe, the obvious assumption was that discretionary spending would fall. That point, coupled with a variety of movement restrictions, created a dire outlook for highly cyclical retailers, especially those with a big bricks-and-mortar presence.

Those worries never materialised though: Yes, companies such as Amazon prospered during the pandemic, but so did smaller retail players as they increasingly shifted their focus to e-commerce in response to changing consumer behaviour.


Take JB Hi-Fi (JBH), an Australian and New Zealand electronics retailer with a significant physical presence. They recently delivered a spectacular set of interim results, revealing significant growth in their online operations, reporting:

  • Total sales of $4.9 billion, up 23.7%

  • Total online sales of $678.8 million, up 161.7%

  • After tax net profits of $317.7 million, up 86.2%

Mind you, it’s not just JBH that has benefitted from a shift in consumer behaviour during the pandemic, investors have piled into many retail stocks – especially those with an online focus.

Looking at this trend through the lens of Jaaims’ own data, some of our biggest returns of the day over the last month have come from consumer cyclical stocks – retailers of one sort or another. Some of these returns of the day have included: Macy’s Inc +26.97%, Hanesbrands Inc +21.14%, and Breville Group Ltd +13.42%.

Will this trend hold up? No one can be sure. But whether it does or doesn’t, our AI trading system is always looking for new trends and opportunities, across US, European and Australian markets. Learn more about our automated trading platform or discover how to set up a Jaaims account here.

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