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United States Businesses The Almighty Buck The Internet

America's 'Retail Apocalypse' Is Really Just Beginning (bloomberg.com) 398

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Bloomberg: The so-called retail apocalypse has become so ingrained in the U.S. that it now has the distinction of its own Wikipedia entry. The industry's response to that kind of doomsday description has included blaming the media for hyping the troubles of a few well-known chains as proof of a systemic meltdown. There is some truth to that. In the U.S., retailers announced more than 3,000 store openings in the first three quarters of this year. But chains also said 6,800 would close. And this comes when there's sky-high consumer confidence, unemployment is historically low and the U.S. economy keeps growing. Those are normally all ingredients for a retail boom, yet more chains are filing for bankruptcy and rated distressed than during the financial crisis. That's caused an increase in the number of delinquent loan payments by malls and shopping centers. The reason isn't as simple as Amazon.com Inc. taking market share or twenty-somethings spending more on experiences than things. The root cause is that many of these long-standing chains are overloaded with debt -- often from leveraged buyouts led by private equity firms. There are billions in borrowings on the balance sheets of troubled retailers, and sustaining that load is only going to become harder -- even for healthy chains. The debt coming due, along with America's over-stored suburbs and the continued gains of online shopping, has all the makings of a disaster. The spillover will likely flow far and wide across the U.S. economy. There will be displaced low-income workers, shrinking local tax bases and investor losses on stocks, bonds and real estate. If today is considered a retail apocalypse, then what's coming next could truly be scary.

America's 'Retail Apocalypse' Is Really Just Beginning

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  • Need I say more?
    • A little bit more might help.
      • Sears Canada announced they are closing all retail stores two weeks ago, and has started liquidation, with all stores expected to be shuttered early next year.

        Sadly - but not surprising - they increased most of their prices before the liquidation began, so their "20% off everything" is a faux bargain. So, it might take a bit longer, as most consumers aren't falling for it.
        • >Sadly - but not surprising - they increased most of their prices before the liquidation began, so their "20% off everything" is a faux bargain.

          One of the reasons I've rarely shopped at Sears is that this has always been their business method for as long as I can recall. The deepest discount you tend to find at Sears still leaves you paying more than you would if you looked elsewhere.

          They presented themselves as a mid-range department store, but operated like one of those shady junk stores with "GOING O

        • by pnutjam ( 523990 )
          That worked like a charm when they closed the sears hardware by me. Everything was long gone by the time the real discounts appeared.
          • That worked like a charm when they closed the sears hardware by me. Everything was long gone by the time the real discounts appeared.

            [sigh] I remember when Sears Canada sold hardware. Good quality Craftman hand tools and power tools. Then sometime in the late 1990s, all the Sears stores in Canada seemed to drop their great hardware and tools, and from there it was a competitive race to the bottom selling appliances (against Best Buy, Leons, Bad Boy, The Brick, Home Depot, Lowe's) and women's fashions (against the rest of the tenants in the shopping mall).

            Sears, at one point, couldn't be beat. It used to be that if Sears sold it under the

    • Need I say more?

      I count six Sears department stores operating within a 30-mile radius near me. That's not including the additional Sears outlet stores.

      What exactly was your point again?

    • Re:Sears (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Galaga88 ( 148206 ) on Thursday November 09, 2017 @09:00AM (#55518657)

      I need to hurry up and film a zombie film in our local Sears before they close they place down completely.

      Going in there is creepy as hell.

    • Re:Sears (Score:5, Informative)

      by Frederic54 ( 3788 ) on Thursday November 09, 2017 @09:19AM (#55518759) Journal

      They are dead in Canada, finished, no more Sears.

      • Re:Sears (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Mashiki ( 184564 ) <mashikiNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Thursday November 09, 2017 @11:51AM (#55519681) Homepage

        Sears killed itself by over-pricing it's competitors so that shouldn't be a surprise. When you can buy a snowblower from canadian tire for $300 and you can walk out the door with it and sears is selling the same model for $700 that will come in 4 days. It's pretty easy to see what's going to happen. Same with major appliances, clothing, and so on. Round that out with the absolute worst customer service around? It was one compounding stupid error on top of another.

        Kinda like Target when they opened up here. Far too many stores, no inventory chain, hugely overpriced compared to their competitors. Many cases the store shelves were empty and they had no product to sell at all. Then there was the belief by the CEO that Canadians would "pay whatever we tell them to pay for goods." Sorry guys. The middle class in Canada is already stretched to the breaking point, that's not how it works.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      To be fair here, Sears's problems are in part due to the mismanagement of their randroid CEO, not just the issues facing retail as a whole. They could be doing better, if they weren't being run into the ground. Compare Sears/Kmart to Target for example.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      The amazing thing about Sears (and Penny's, too) was that they started 100.00% as mail-order only.
      It wasn't until later that they felt a need to go brick-and-mortar - but they still kept their catalog business.
      Amazon shouldn't exist - Sears should have had an easy transition from mail/phone orders to https:// sales.

      Crazy!

      CAP === 'calcuim'

    • Re:Sears (Score:5, Insightful)

      by kilfarsnar ( 561956 ) on Thursday November 09, 2017 @10:21AM (#55519083)

      Need I say more?

      It's a little ironic that Sears is on the way out these days. A big part of their business used to be the Sears Catalog for mail order. They were basically doing what Amazon is doing before the Internet existed!

  • by geekmux ( 1040042 ) on Thursday November 09, 2017 @08:15AM (#55518525)

    "...There are billions in borrowings on the balance sheets of troubled retailers...The debt coming due, along with America's over-stored suburbs and the continued gains of online shopping, has all the makings of a disaster."

    Thousands of balloon/ARM mortgages approved for unqualified borrowers also had all the makings of a disaster back in 2008 too.

    There's a common trait in the human race that spans thousands of years; a propensity to never fucking learn.

    And over-stored is right. It's ridiculous just how many damn choices there are within a mile-long stretch of suburbia. No wonder so many are closing.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by umghhh ( 965931 )
      If the going is good why not expand. Bacteria do it, humans do it, companies do it, shares dealers do it. Once the border of the petry dish is reached a collapse or correction occurs. There is a desire to get out of the boost/bust cycle but similar to forest fires - keeping small ones away makes the next one an all destroying monster fire. In a sense boost moment is just a point where a heap of crap collected for quite some time exceeds its physical capacity to hold together and collapses. The question is:
      • If the going is good why not expand. Bacteria do it, humans do it, companies do it, shares dealers do it.

        One of these things is not like the other.

        When ruthless Greed is compared to mindless bacteria that only know how to do one fucking thing, the real disease that will destroy us, is Ignorance.

        One would have thought the most advanced species on the planet would be more capable of preventing it's own destruction. Guess not.

  • by Baron_Yam ( 643147 ) on Thursday November 09, 2017 @08:20AM (#55518543)

    Here's the thing - I'm old. Not ancient, but middle-aged. So I'm probably not expected by younger people to be comfortable with the latest technologies and customs, right?

    Except when I'm buying things I check Chinese websites first, because the stuff I could buy from a local retailer is generally 1/3 the cost if I get it direct from China, and it's generally the same damn item, only with a lot of unnecessary middle-men removed from the equation. Cutting out a couple of warehouses, an extra trip on a truck, and a whole chain of office and retail workers saves quite a bit of overhead.

    For me that's usually just low end electronics stuff that'll fit in an international mail envelope, but there's all sorts of other stuff, too. Hell, you can get tailored clothing for the price of local off-the-rack stuff.

    Retail is having the same issue the cable television industry is having - the economics have changed and they haven't found a way to adapt. I don't need to drive to a big box store or a mall to pay 300% more for something when with a bit of patience it comes to my house for a lot less.

    • by Mitreya ( 579078 ) <mitreya@NOSpam.gmail.com> on Thursday November 09, 2017 @08:32AM (#55518577)
      It also kinda sounds like this is a "leveraged buyout apocalypse" problem that can affect non-retail companies just as easily.

      The root cause is that many of these long-standing chains are overloaded with debt -- often from leveraged buyouts led by private equity firms.

      • by pnutjam ( 523990 )
        Shhh...
        Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain...
        err.. it was Unions that killed Hostess..
    • by mjwx ( 966435 ) on Thursday November 09, 2017 @08:40AM (#55518601)
      The main reason I buy online is that brick and mortar rarely stock what I want.

      I could go down to Curry's or M&S for something but chances are they aren't going to have it and if they do, its not in stock. So for things I dont need to measure, I'll buy online because they at least have it in stock. The big exception for me is clothing, but even that is changing.
      • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

        There was something on the radio about how online clothes retailers are starting to offer virtual mannequins that use your measurements to preview clothing and suggest the right size.

        • by mjwx ( 966435 )
          Radio... now theres someting I haven't listened to in a long time :)

          The big problem with shopping for clothes online is that you need to know your own measurements. This is fine when ordering T-shirts (come to think of it, I haven't bought a T-shirt from a B&M store in a while) where all you're worried about is M, L, XL, 2XL and SM (Small Marquee) but for business attire, I need to know at a minimum my arm/leg length as well as my collar/waist, even more if I want made to measure.

          IIRC, you're also
    • by 0100010001010011 ( 652467 ) on Thursday November 09, 2017 @09:01AM (#55518663)

      Except when I'm buying things I check Chinese websites first,

      Exactly this. A lot of companies didn't realize that I can cut out a lot of layers by just going to the country where they're making their goods.

      Most of my purchases fall into one of two categories: I need it soon or I'll play with it when I have time.

      So most of my shopping is Amazon or Aliexpress. In years past Aliexpress' orders would have gone to Radio Shack but they removed that part of their store a long time ago. Now I'll browse for something neat, order it and play with it when it arrives. I order Arduino Nanos by the 10 pack. It's not worth trying to do PCB development for a $3 one of them costs.

      For stuff like toilet paper or something I could use in a few days Amazon will have it to my door in 2 days.

      The end result is I end up buying a lot more local products. Saving money at Amazon and Aliexpress means I can go to local art fairs, stop by local shops and buy something a local craftsman made. The best knives I own have no brand name. They're some old guy that has no internet that has been making knives in his tiny rural house for decades. I am more than happy to give him money in exchange for a great product.

      If something is going to come from China there's no reason I should be paying Walmart's rent, taxes, and Walton's salaries.

      • by Bigbutt ( 65939 )

        Yea, I bought a nice 4k computer monitor from Taiwan. It was a LG that failed QC (possibly not black enough, up to 15 dead pixels, etc; I use it for programming so black isn't an issue and if you can find 15 dead pixels on the 4k monitor, I'll give you $20 :) ) so I got it for about a third of the price of an equivalent LG and got to watch it ship from Taiwan to the US and my door. It was well packaged so no damage the to monitor and it's almost 2 years now and it works so well that if it does fail, I'll im

      • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

        In the UK you have better rights when buying stuff online too. Due to "distance selling" regulations you have two weeks to return the item for any reason, or no reason. You just pay return shipping, unless it's faulty or not as described.

        Not many shops will let you return stuff for two weeks. Makes taking a chance on some Amazon or eBay item a lot safer, because if it does turn out to be total crap you are at worst out the shipping. And you can ship almost anything for under a fiver via My Hermes these days

        • I've found that most Aliexpress shops will bend over backwards to accommodate you. It's usually just cheaper for them to send you another product than to deal with the fallout of a 'bad review'. (It also means the reviews are worthless since everyone just 5/5 and moves on).

          I had bad PCB on my CNC machine I bought, the vendor sent me an entirely new upgraded PCB off of nothing other than "This is broke."

          They're also catching on to the fact that brands and quality do matter. There have been a lot of new brand

    • by MobyDisk ( 75490 ) on Thursday November 09, 2017 @09:23AM (#55518773) Homepage

      BINGO. 10 years ago, online was often junk while retail was quality items. Now, retail sells the same garbage items that the online stores do. There's no differentiation any longer. You can see this when you go to sears.com or walmart.com and half the products are "online only." They are all trying to be Amazon.com. The retailers that survive will be the ones that stop trying to compete in the "race to the bottom."

      Sears is the my favorite example. People used to buy Sears appliances, even though they were overpriced, because Sears curated the models with the best reliability and offered longer warranties and local service. Now, Sears products are just rebranded versions of the mid-range to low-end items, they don't have better warranties, and service is now farmed out to 3rd-parties. If the item is 50lbs then you often have to mail it out for service. I am totally okay with paying 200% to get something that lasts twice as long. But so far, I don't know who offers me that any longer.

      Apple is one company that isn't competing in the race to the bottom, and is doing well with that approach.

      • by pnutjam ( 523990 )
        Exactly, price used to be some indication of quality, but that is long gone. Discount retailers do tend to have special cheap and crappy items made for them, sometimes they look identical to the normal item.
        The best consumers can do is avoid bad retailers, buy cheap, and force companies to honor their warranties.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Retail is having the same issue the cable television industry is having - the economics have changed and they haven't found a way to adapt. I don't need to drive to a big box store or a mall to pay 300% more for something when with a bit of patience it comes to my house for a lot less.

      Businesses can only adapt so quickly because sudden, big reactions prompt panic from investors and that tanks the whole company--if they can't borrow money, they can't run.

      Example: here in Houston, the oil and gas industry has had multiple rounds of layoffs, even though oil prices stabilized shortly after the big crash two years ago. Why are they still firing people if they have settled? Easy, they never finished and it was part of the plan. If you needed to cut 20,000 workers, you can't do that in one da

    • by Luthair ( 847766 )
      What do you actually trust on alixpress? Personally I won't buy electronics due to fire risks, or buy items that touch food for obvious reasons.
    • by drinkypoo ( 153816 ) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Thursday November 09, 2017 @10:28AM (#55519137) Homepage Journal

      Sears kicked ass for years because they owned their own real estate and they were able to offer competitive prices. They'd already have gone under if they hadn't kept their trucking fleet, although they had to change the name on the side of the trucks [nypost.com] because nobody wanted to see a Sears truck.

      They were already failing before they started selling real estate, though, which they started doing specifically because they couldn't cover their operating expenses otherwise. And they were failing not because they couldn't compete with the internets, but because they didn't try. They compromised customer service, which was what got people through the door. They also compromised quality, for instance Craftsman tools have been going downhill for years. So why would you bother to go in there?

      I also wonder how much money Sears has spent on their agonizingly awful e-commerce site. It does tend to carry pretty much everything, but it has pretty much everything at the highest prices anywhere. When you add to this the fact that it's one of the worst sites on the interwebs, it's easy to see why nobody uses it.

      I, for one, fell out of love with Sears years ago, when I was just getting acquainted with powered yard equipment and found that they wanted about 400% of reasonable parts prices. More recently, I had a problem with them not wanting to honor a warranty. Sears changes model numbers on products which haven't actually changed every year so that they don't have any stock to make warranty replacements with, so that they can dick you around. Is that really cheaper than just doing business properly? Who knows. But fuck 'em.

    • because the stuff I could buy from a local retailer is generally 1/3 the cost if I get it direct from China

      And as long as more than one in three of them works you're coming out ahead!

      • I'd rather not add to the local landfill if I don't have to, so if I was actually getting a 50% failure rate I'd stop shopping as I do.

        I started off with an attitude of only buying things that were inexpensive enough I wouldn't be too upset if they went straight from the mailbox to the bin, but I have yet to get anything faulty from China. More cheaply made than anticipated because I never saw the thing in person first, yes... but overall I have far more buyer's regret from local purchases than over stuff I

        • I'd rather not add to the local landfill if I don't have to

          I didn't know you lived in Africa [dailymail.co.uk].

          Others report it being worse, so I think you've been lucky so far.

    • Got any links to the Chinese goods? And the clothes?

    • Oh, they can compete. They just have to compete on customer service instead of price. Case in point: Apple retail, which have been the most profitable retail chain per square foot for what... a decade? Longer?

      Yeah, I can find a cheaper phone from some no-name vendor that drop-ships from china. But if the thing craps out on me, I'm just SOL. With Apple? I've had three hardware issues with iPhones that weren't my fault. (A flakey button on a 5, and I got bit by the 6s' battery issue twice.). Every time

    • by k6mfw ( 1182893 )

      Yes and no. There is advantage of buying retail as I can examine what I am buying, even small connectors. Yes, you can get stuff cheap on the internet but if it is a "cheap item" that is too cheap, then it becomes useless and goes straight to the trash (why waste time getting something you can't use?). On the flip side especially here in Silicon Valley, traffic is horrible including weekends. It takes ***one hour*** to go to each store (many traffic lights, negotiating parking) but stores don't seem to carr

  • by guruevi ( 827432 ) <evi@@@evcircuits...com> on Thursday November 09, 2017 @08:21AM (#55518547) Homepage

    So 6000 people lose jobs, across the nation thatâ(TM)s not that bad especially given that most of those can easily find spots in other retail stores.

    The problem is lack of service, how many times can you try to go to Sears only to find a long line at the single cashier and nobody to help you with anything. Then whenever you have a $5 discount, the entire companyâ(TM)s management needs to be involved in approving it. Then returning it is an entire level of Danteâ(TM)s Inferno unto its own.

    Newegg/Amazon will ship you at the discounted price and if youâ(TM)re not happy with it take it back no questions asked.

    • by Anubis IV ( 1279820 ) on Thursday November 09, 2017 @10:10AM (#55519027)

      It was 6800 stores, not 6800 people, and many of the ones being mentioned were department stores (e.g. Macy’s, J.C. Penny, etc.) that could easily be employing hundreds of people apiece, so we’re not talking about just 6000 people. Even places like American Apparel, which is closing all 110 of its remaining stores, averaged about 22 employees per store. The Mom & Pop place my wife works (which is thankfully doing quite well, since they depend more on service than sales) only has two people in the front at any given time, but between people in the back, support staff, and people not scheduled to work on any given day, they actually employ around 10 people, which you’d never realize by just walking in.

      And the trend towards closures has been rising in recent years. The linked Wikipedia article mentions that between 25% and 50% of America’s 1200 malls are expected to close within the next five to six years. Sears has closed nearly 2000 stores in the last few years. Kmart has closed about 1500 in the last decade, with more to go.

      Suggesting it’s just 6000 people is a gross underestimation.

  • by jellomizer ( 103300 ) on Thursday November 09, 2017 @08:23AM (#55518553)

    I think the biggest change is that we are no longer really looking for stores, but showrooms. We need a place where we can go and look at the products, touch them, see if they do what they are meant to do. Then we can buy them online. These showrooms may have some small stock but their revenue will be from renting space to the company to showcase their products.

    • Ask the Gateway stores how well that worked out for them...

      • Gateway's problem wasn't its business model; It was their complete lack of scruples. Gateway was a dirty company that tried to screw over small business owners with dirty dealing, etc. The world is a better place not having to deal with Gateway.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      I've been comparing Japanese retail to UK retail for years and they seem to have solved a lot of the problems that making shopping in the UK a generally crappy experience.

      Their range is as varied as online retailers, and they usually have what you want actually in stock. You get to make a genuine choice of which model you want, and then they have it in every available colour as well. I'm not sure how they do it, but it's not like the UK where they generally have two or three options max, and one of those is

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I know I run a small soda fountain pharmacy and I find that my customers (which cross nearly all age and racial categories) seem to prefer our knowledgeable and caring staff that somehow provides more service while charging less. Maybe consumers are learning that big box stores don't actually care about them. Just my perspective.

  • by pezpunk ( 205653 ) on Thursday November 09, 2017 @08:30AM (#55518569) Homepage

    there is a tremendous amount of real estate consumed by retail outlets, which frankly are of far diminished use than in previous decades. if someone can order something on Amazon and get it delivered to their door in a day or two, there's little reason to get in the car and drive to a store. this works well for a huge chunk of your average person's shopping.

    in terms of the employment impact: those affected skew young or low income. and the jobs aren't merely shifted to a different country or location -- most of them are no longer necessary at all. for now, at least, most warehouses and shipping hubs rely on human labor, but that work represents a small fraction of the manpower a proportional retail store would have employed.

    it's a problem, but in my opinion, likely a short-term one. i foresee a dramatic upswing in remote, online employment across the board, as online communication and interaction tools mature, and a willing and capable labor pool emerges -- a pool of young people to whom this technology is as effortless and natural as walking.

    an optimist might even suggest that this would allow people to more easily aspire to niche occupations and careers that they would have otherwise been unlikely to achieve due to geography. In the past, if you wanted to work in the pinball industry, you had to live in Chicago. If your passion was recording music, you'd almost have to move to Los Angeles or NYC to make a living at it.

    Today, there are artists who draw playfields for Stern Pinball without setting foot in Chicago. and my brother does mixing and mastering remotely over the internet for people all over the world.

    just like those brick and mortar sales, the job market isn't going away. it's just going online.

    • by Ichijo ( 607641 )

      there is a tremendous amount of real estate consumed by retail outlets

      That's absolutely true. We force brick and mortar retailers to build more parking than the market thinks is necessary, and we mandate minimum setbacks, maximum floor area ratios, and height limits, and if stores don't meet these arbitrary requirements that drive up their building costs and property taxes, we don't let them build at all.

      In the end, the only retailers who can afford to navigate these regulations are big-box chain stores wh

  • Retail experience (Score:4, Insightful)

    by grumling ( 94709 ) on Thursday November 09, 2017 @08:31AM (#55518571) Homepage

    Apple stores are doing just fine. But Apple stores are about the experience, much like a movie. Going to Sears or Target or Walmart is like taking a dump. You have to do it so just get it over with and get back to your life.

    One reason restaurants are still hot is because they can be an experience. If more small retailers began to understand that it's not about inventory it's about the experience maybe we can get things turned around. Adding things like customer education (advice on accessories for clothing, for example), and of course competent employees (who are actually permitted to help the customer) are always welcome too.

    • by starless ( 60879 )

      like taking a dump. You have to do it so just get it over with and get back to your life.

      Freud might disagree with you.
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      "Apple stores are about the experience . . ."

      Here's my experience. Apple stores are filled to the brim. Good luck trying to talk to someone. A couple years back I wanted to buy a Macbook Pro for my wife. After waiting 30 minutes to talk to a "genius", I asked him what is the difference between the regular Macbook pro and the "retina" version. His response, "the retina is for graphics designers".

      That was my last trip to the Apple store.

  • Costco says wut? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 09, 2017 @08:50AM (#55518625)

    On the weekends, Costco usually has 10 lanes of cash registers with 10 people in line each, with baskets loaded to the top, followed by long long lines to pass by receipt checkers to exit the building...The downfall of "retail" isn't all about Amazon.com and online clicks, it also includes the rise of these warehouse stores that sell superior quality produce and products (except for their accidentally unauthorized jewelry and slightly obsolete electronics) as well as buying basic household goods in bulk to reduce cost in a country that has had depressed wages for twenty years. Because of the lower overhead, warehouse stores can be a much cheaper way to buy things than ordering online from Amazon and still offer some of the seasonal and local customizations that Department stores once did.

    • Re:Costco says wut? (Score:4, Informative)

      by EmagGeek ( 574360 ) <gterich@ao[ ]om ['l.c' in gap]> on Thursday November 09, 2017 @09:12AM (#55518709) Journal

      Don't forget that Costco at least also pays a living wage, with the lowest paid workers making about $35K/year plus medical, dental, and vision benefits, and a 401k match.

      Costco is definitely not the cheapest game in town for much of what they sell, but like you say, you CAN get in and out of there FAST with a month's worth of supplies, and not have to make 10 stops across town to get it all. That kind of convenience is worth quite a bit.

      • Costco pays a living wage, but they also employ 90% of the unskilled people who are worth that kind of money in the area. There aren't enough workers who are that good for other stores to do the same. Sam's Club/Walmart's strategy is to employ lower-level workers, pay a little less (although still better than Target) and have better procedures in place to deal with lower level workers and more turnover.

    • On the weekends, Costco usually has 10 lanes of cash registers with 10 people in line each, with baskets loaded to the top, followed by long long lines to pass by receipt checkers to exit the building...The downfall of "retail" isn't all about Amazon.com and online clicks, it also includes the rise of these warehouse stores that sell superior quality produce and products (except for their accidentally unauthorized jewelry and slightly obsolete electronics) as well as buying basic household goods in bulk to

    • People are going to Costco in droves for the same reason they're staying away from Sears: it's the service. The world is chock-full of stories of people who brought stuff back to Costco which failed well out of warranty and they replaced it anyway. It's also chock-full of stuff which people bought from Costco and it didn't fail, because they tend to actually do some research and then stock only things which don't suck. They haven't fallen into the trap of the average retailer who feels they have to stock ev

    • by dj245 ( 732906 )

      On the weekends, Costco usually has 10 lanes of cash registers with 10 people in line each, with baskets loaded to the top, followed by long long lines to pass by receipt checkers to exit the building...The downfall of "retail" isn't all about Amazon.com and online clicks, it also includes the rise of these warehouse stores that sell superior quality produce and products (except for their accidentally unauthorized jewelry and slightly obsolete electronics) as well as buying basic household goods in bulk to reduce cost in a country that has had depressed wages for twenty years. Because of the lower overhead, warehouse stores can be a much cheaper way to buy things than ordering online from Amazon and still offer some of the seasonal and local customizations that Department stores once did.

      The problem with Costco is that they actively provide an inferior shopping experience-
      Aisles are not labeled and products move around frequently
      Aisles are logjammed at my location. First it was just on weekends, now it is basically any time.
      Lines are very long as you mentioned
      If you find a commodity product you really like, Costco may stop carrying it at any time (They have infuriated me with their yogurt brand/ swapouts)
      You can't park your cart next to the bathrooms unless you are already checked out

  • From the Summary (Score:4, Insightful)

    by IWantMoreSpamPlease ( 571972 ) on Thursday November 09, 2017 @09:17AM (#55518737) Homepage Journal

    >>... unemployment is historically low...

    Total bollocks. It's only listed that way because the feds lie about how they count unemployment.
    If you include the total, real world number of those who have been out of work for longer than a year, forced to work part time, and those on public assistance, the number is in the double digits.

    • Re:From the Summary (Score:5, Informative)

      by BaronM ( 122102 ) on Thursday November 09, 2017 @09:41AM (#55518889)

      I'd like to know where you get 'double digits' from. BLS tracks a much broader measure of unemployment, U6, in addition to the headline figure. That measure is: "Total unemployed, plus all marginally attached workers plus total employed part time for economic reasons, as a percent of all civilian labor force plus all marginally attached workers". The most recent figure for that is 7.9%. Much higher than the most frequently reported measure, but not 'doubld digits'.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        https://www.thebalance.com/wha... [thebalance.com]

        Near as makes no difference to 10%

        • https://www.thebalance.com/wha... [thebalance.com]

          Near as makes no difference to 10%

          I read the entire article. Why did you cherry-pick the January 2017 U6 number of 9.4% and round up to 10% to justify your "double digits" claim? The October value for U6 is 7.9%. As the article states:

          In October 2017, the real unemployment rate (U-6) was 7.9 percent

          The entire point of the article is that regardless of the unemployment statistic you use, unemployment is down in apples to apples comparisons across the board. I don't understand what point you're trying to make other than that the fed does not use the U6 number to report unemployment. And if that's your

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      There is also the issue of underemployment. In the UK the numbers are low because a million people are on "zero hour" contracts. Basically you have no guarantee of getting any work, you might get zero hours one week and 40 hours the next. Companies don't even have to make people redundant any more, they just stop giving them hours.

      Not all jobs are equal. Shitty jobs can be as bad as being unemployed.

  • Tear down the zombie strip malls and rezone the properties for apartments/condos.

    • I don't know if it's a thing in your area, but around here a significant percentage of newer apartment buildings (condo or otherwise) have the first floor hosting retail units.

      Totally destroying retail presence means more sprawl with more people needing cars more frequently.

  • In 2004, Malcolm Gladwell accelerated depreciation [newyorker.com] as to why so many malls were built in the first place. I just now added this to the Wikipedia article.

  • I hope retail lasts a while. Not because I particularly like shopping in person, but because online shopping is creepy from a privacy perspective. You have to use electronic payment and tie purchases to your identity and address. Meaning that the profile that retailers, marketeers, governments, and health insurers have on you gets even bigger.

    Even if you have nothing to hide, assuming price restrictions and community rating on health insurance are repealed, how long before health insurers start billing y

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