Will there be corporate resistance to smaller homes

Since World War II, the North American landscape has been remade to suit the automobile.  Urban spaces often languished (with notable exceptions) in favour of suburban spaces, spread out such that driving and automobile ownership became necessities.

A tremendous automotive-industry lobby contributed to this phenomenon.  Government built roads provided a massive subsidy to the motor vehicle industry.  Moreover, the automotive industry specifically lobbied against transit plans.

The “Fordist” model of human organization that prevailed also included growing numbers of Malls, Power Centres, and stand-alone big-box stores where suburban residents did their shopping (by car, SUV or mini-van).

Therefore, assuming this “Great Reset” is occurring, the shift toward more urban living, less automotive use, and living in smaller spaces is going to threaten the general profitability and size of a wide range of companies and industries.  Shopping without a car and living in a smaller home will likely mean buying less — unless it’s totally disposable, which generally goes against the ecological sensitivities that many people share today.

Will the large retailers and makers of products now widely consumed adapt (assuming this is possible) or fight the tide?

4 comments

  1. marco says:

    probably, industry will change too. All the new trends I see are less and less oriented to goods themselves and more and more oriented to services.

    Of course most of the existing industries will try to fight the shift in consumers’ habits: we can already see an example of this trend with the music industry and its battle against file sharing.

  2. Andrea Coutu says:

    I see that, in Vancouver, the Brick has opened the Urban Brick to serve the needs of condo dwellers. And Canadian Tire has a “condo edition” flyer. (However, they sell giant items in it, so I don’t think they understand.)

    Stores need to change. I had a space planning consultation at Ikea. The store planner just could not accept that I did not have enough space to have 24″ of open space on all sides of my dining table, that I did not want to give up a play area for a coffee table, or that my kids’ train table is where she would have put some chairs.

  3. Geoff says:

    It is my opinion that the corporate world is already adapting to this, very much like how the auto industry offered more small car options during the oil crisis in the 1970′s and how they are now planning more alternative fuel vehicles in response to the the global warming concerns. I believe these changes are really consumer driven.

    In Vancouver, the size of the one bedroom condo units have become smaller in recent years with some as small as 500 sf. Another interesting change is how condo buyers in transit friendly areas do not own cars and would rather purchase units without parking stalls, which they would not be using. In response to this, developers are now building developments with less parking stalls.

    With more of the population living in these smaller units and without cars, more retailers are responding to this by offering apartment friendly products. The nearby Costco, in Downtown Vancouver, has a different line of products, as compare to the suburban Costcos. They don’t stock the huge family size items and also offer delivery service to those who don’t own cars.

    Quite simply, if there is money to be made, corporations will change. Those who don’t, will end up going out of business.

  4. Andrew says:

    Corporate America will do fine. People who live in cities will just buy different things. For instances, urban condos aren’t exactly cheap, despite being small. The only industry that is in serious trouble is the auto industry.

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