As the world keeps turning

There is only one news story at the moment, with all its ramifications of personal tragedy, nuclear accident and economic hardship.  It would be crass for a retail/bookselling website to try and weave itself into the Japanese narrative, though I predict what will come across most strongly in the weeks and months to come is the indominatability of the human spirit – the determination of the Japanese people to pick themselves up and carry on.

Back in our world, there has been a series of straws in the fashion wind:

  • Gap has announced that over 20% of its stores worldwide – 200 out of 900 – will be closed by 2013.  As the Independent notes, this move reflects “changes affecting the fashion industry as a whole, with soaring cotton prices and diminishing zest for consumption”.
  • New Look has, once again, pulled its IPO.  Chairman John Gildersleeve told The Daily Telegraph: “The market is not going to improve in the near term because fashion retailing is going to have a difficult year – a combination of a consumer who is more challenged than they have been for many years, and cost increases that the industry has no real experience of”.
  • The chief executive of All Saints has been forced to deny that the company is seeking emergency funding.  The Daily Mail reminds us that, late last year,  All Saints agreed loans of £20m from the Icelandic firms Kaupthing and Glitnir.

All of these stories take us back to the banking crisis of 2008, and the actions of banks and corporations in the years leading up to it.  Over-expansion, high valuations, and financial backing from hitherto unlikely sources, are three of themes that have repeated themselves, and will continue to reverberate through the business world for some time to come.  Consumers and companies will shake themselves down, reinvent themselves, and carry on to new successes, but for the time being, the corrections are still coming.