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Analyst’s Take: What Self-Driving Cars & the Burgeoning Burbs Mean for Retail

Last week I shared several articles that opined on the business and cultural significance of the departure of J. Crew’s longtime creative director, Jenna Lyons. This of course dishy piece from the New York Post, includes some important insights. “Lyons, however, wasn’t the industry’s typical star; she was running a catalogue-company-cum-chain store, and she made it feel glossy and aspirational. But her departure from J.Crew, announced last Monday, marks a much larger, sadder trend: Culturally and commercially, fashion is losing relevance.”

Separately, this article recaps the familiar factors behind the “Retail Meltdown of 2017,” but then ends with an elaboration on a bold, fresh, prediction that self-driving cars may transform retail. “Finally, a brief prediction. One of the mistakes people make when thinking about the future is to think that they are watching the final act of the play. Mobile shopping might be the most transformative force in retail—today. But self-driving cars could change retail as much as smartphones.”

Finally, here’s an article on a topic that—unlike the soap opera at J.Crew and the retail apocalypse—does not get enough attention: the shifting of population AWAY from big cities. One would naturally think that such shifts would benefit malls, but Amazon has largely obviated the needs for getting out of your chair to shop, wherever you live.

Faye Landes, co-founder and general partner of Back to the Future Ventures, advises emerging consumer and retail companies on strategy, branding and fundraising. She was one of Wall Street’s leading consumer and retail analysts for over 20 years and was widely recognized for her ability to anticipate sweeping trends, such as the widespread adoption of activewear. She has frequently appeared on CNBC, Bloomberg TV and other media outlets and has presented at industry conferences all over the world. Read her “Analyst’s Take” column here weekly.