Are You Being Served?
The Retail World is changing…Again.
For thousands of years the individual merchant did business one customer at a time, one sale at a time. The customer went to the merchant’s shop to find what they needed. Then in the late 19th Century we saw (Well, not me personally) the rise of the Department Store.
Downtown Shopping Districts boomed as stores like Macy’s, Gimbels, Sears, and others offered the shopper everything under one roof – Clothing, Appliances, and in many cases, a nice café to get lunch. The big downtown stores served the urban shoppers until… those shoppers began to move out to the Suburbs.
The rise of the Shopping Center and Malls signaled another change in how America bought everything from soup to nuts. Eventually the big downtown stores began to close and abandon the city center for “The ‘Burbs.” The Malls became Mini-Downtowns. Life revolved around the Malls for American Teens. I remember seeing my first Shopping Mall in the late 1950s and it had everything I could ever want.
And then came THE INTERNET.
I don’t know when the first online shopping site opened its electronic doors, but once sites like Amazon began to seemingly offer everything at lower prices than the Malls – and with fast and free delivery, the handwriting was on the wall, “The Malls were in Big Trouble.”
In 2006 Sears, an anchor store in countless Malls, had 3500 stores and 355,000 employees. In October of 2018 Sears filed for bankruptcy. They were down to 687 stores and 68,000 employees. And it’s not getting any better.
Even grocery stores are feeling the crunch as Amazon, Wal-Mart, and others are now delivering fresh foods right to your front door.
The Colossus of “Black Friday” – the day after Thanksgiving and the start of the Christmas Shopping Season has changed. The images of people camping out in front of big retailers to get those hot bargains are becoming scarcer as now, instead of pitching a tent in the parking lot, people can click the computer mouse and stay home in their pajamas with a hot cup of cocoa to nail down those super-duper deals.
The Big Question is – What’s Next?
Will the Malls make a comeback? Can the big Department Stores come back to life?
OR… Will something new and as yet unforeseen come along to stake a claim on America’s credit cards?