While the economic scene continues to be reported as bleak at best, that’s not necessarily so for everyone. Take retail for instance. The retail industry has reported more store closings from coast to coast in the past two years than ever before. However, 7-Eleven, the world’s largest chain store with 35,900 stores in 17 countries, has announced plans to open an additional 200 stores in the U.S. this year. By the way, to give an idea of how large it is—McDonald’s has only 31,062 stores.
Ironically, the two largest areas of expansion will be California (a state in financial chaos from border to border) and the New York metropolitan area (which is very competitive at all times).
One might question this growth strategy at a time when the entire country appears to have fallen victim to recessionary madness. However, consequences of this madness aren’t all negative for all parties. Falling real-estate values have made long-term leases very attractive to landlords, and many have been eager to strike bargains with 7-Eleven and other similar retailers.
While 7-Eleven actually charges more than most grocery stores, convenience obviously means even more to many consumers who try to save money by under-buying during their visits to the market. You won’t find gigantic shopping carts or massive displays of product stacked to the ceiling at a 7-Eleven … thus less impulse purchases.
7-Eleven stores are appealing to New Yorkers because its quality control ensures that the stores are clean and well-run, in stark contrast to many of the corner delis that currently function as the city’s informal food-distribution network.
7-Eleven isn’t alone in its strategy to use the recession as a tool for broadening its reach. Bargain-priced department store Kohl’s is on track to open 50 new stores next year, and Swedish fashion chain H&M (Hennes & Mauritz) says it plans to open 225 new stores this year.
Dollar General has announced plans to open 450 new stores in 35 states while Big Lots has 45 new stores on the drawing board for the coming year. The target for all of these retailers: price-conscious, bargain-hunting shoppers forced to live within a strict budget as the national media warns of greater challenges on every front.
Adversity is fertile soil for creativity and action!