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70% of UK retail spend is captured by only 7-8 companies. 50% of all EU retail spend is captured by only 10 retailers. The future of retail is massive scale and consolidation - farming, clothing, fast moving consumer goods, digital and so on - warehousing, logistics, supply chains, giant stores etc. Truth is that most retail outlets in the world are in emerging markets where 85% of all retail customers live, and 99.5% of them are the size of a shipping container or smaller, much smaller if you include informal street traders. We can debate about the speed of the trend or how far consolidation will go but Europe is pointing the way ahead. Of course the upside is astonishing efficiency which means lower prices usually, but the downside is lack of choice. Take bookselling: outside of major chains, there are few book outlets today in Europe, and most of them are small. But big chains only have limited shelf space so only a fraction of the 200,000 new titles in the UK each year will ever make it to a supermarket shelf. The rest will mostly have to fight online for attention of readers. Books are one thing, but fashion is quite another. If you wander into Shopping Malls from Beijing to Rio de Janeiro you find the same thing: almost identical chains selling identical range of items. Same in airport Duty Free areas globally. So shopping is becoming very boring - an additional factor driving online sales and further contraction in traditional retail outlets.


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