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The Death of (Some) Retail

April 15, 2012 22:35:45.000

There's been a lot written about "the death of retail" lately, but I think this analysis really gets to the heart of the matter:

As people get richer, and goods get cheaper, and consumers become more interested in the total buying experience (all things that Virginia documents) it may be that the appeal of Big Box stores -- whose approach consists of giving you far less service in exchange for lower prices -- may decline, and the appeal of old-fashioned specialty stores, where the salespeople know their products, and their customers, may come back.

Big Box stores are competing with Amazon (et. al.). There's no way to win there; having no retail space and no floor staff will always be cheaper (regardless of what happens with sales tax disputes). If you know what you want, and are willing to forgo service, there's just no need to ever visit a big box store. I think that spells trouble beyond Best Buy; ultimately, I suspect stores like Wal-Mart and Target will have trouble, too.

I wouldn't be surprised to see retail bifurcate into smaller, "high value" shops and online (low price). That doesn't leave a lot of room for the big box outfits.

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posted by James Robertson

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