Change is in the air for fashion retailers, and the struggle for survival is affecting not only new firms, but firms which have been long established within the urban jungle of our malls. The man emerging as a scapegoat for these commercial woes is non other than Donald Trump. Granted, a significant portion of Donald Trump's promises during his campaign trail were aimed at businesses, who he promised to help - a vague promise seemingly backed by the weight of his own business successes (conveniently skipping over his bankruptcies and failures). However; as yet, Trump has barely moved to come to the aid of American businesses, save for Nordstrom's unexpected boost after dropping Ivanka Trump's fashion line which really was the opposite of Trump's intention. The Dow Jones fell last week, and fashion retailers saw the largest drops - including Urban Outfitters, Express and Guess, while American Eagle Outfitters, one of the glossy 2000's stalwarts of American teenage fashion, had the largest decline with a 14.7% fall.
The problem isn't that Donald Trump is affecting these declines and struggles, they were happening already, and would be happening if there was someone else in power. The past five years have seen traditional bricks and mortar stores struggle at the onslaught of e-commerce retailers (although these too have struggled - look at Nasty Gal's meteoric rise and fall). The blame falling onto Trump is a case of lack of action - his promised tax reforms have not come through, as the White House has been largely concerned with immigration and responding to late-night tweets from the POTUS.
The retail landscape is undoubtedly changing, largely due to the changes in technology and resulting change in consumer risk aversion which has influenced shopping habits. A significant amount of consumers now purchase apparel, footwear and accessories online, and statistics are clear that mall traffic is falling, however bricks and mortar stores still appear a vital part of the consumer decision making process. Perhaps tax reforms and trying to push consumers back to previously favoured channels isn't the right answer. With higher risk factors and environmental threats than ever, companies who innovate the way consumers shop and embrace change facing their organisations are the ones who come out on top. It's a scary thought, but the fight for survival is becoming more and more real for many well-established brands.