Retail is a dynamic, ever-changing universe. A&P was once the largest retailer in the world. Walmart was once a tiny five-and-dime compared to Ben Franklin stores. Chains like Home Depot and Staples and CVS barely existed 25 years ago. And don’t get me started on fashion retailers like H&M which began in 1947 in Sweden and now operates in 53 countries. Kmart used to be the king of discount; now, they’re the discounted king dragging venerated Sears to the bottom of the retail pond.
Online retailing – or e-tailing – is definitely impacting their bricks-and-mortar brethren but mostly at the margin. The overall online numbers remain small – less than 6% of total retail sales in the US. Those marginal places where online is winning a bigger piece of the pie, however, have been books, entertainment (think iPod downloads) and electronics. And it’s murder in those neighborhoods.
The latest casualty is RadioShack which just announced the shuttering of 1100 stores, roughly 20% of their locations. Ouch. It’s tough to live on the margin. Just ask Circuit City (d. 2008) or any of the thousands of mom-and-pop stationers, drugstores, apparel retailers, restaurants, gift shops, shoe stores and the like that have perished in this dynamic industry we call retail.
Posted on 3/3/2014 at 7:00:00 PM