Tuesday, May 02, 2017

But Retail's Fine, Just Read Forbes

So in spite of the original notice that indicated it would stay open, the Radio Shack at 700 South and State here in SLC is closing (i.e. it's worse than they originally announced).  2017 retail bankruptcies already outnumber 2016.  The distressed retailer list is growing rapidly.  But Forbes thinks things are fine.  There are good reasons for this.  First, Paula Rosenblum is the sort of member of my age group that gives my age group a bad name.  The way she poo-poos the effect of on-line shopping is both condescending and absurd.  A nonscientific sampling consisting of my four kids finds a unanimous preference for shopping online, and one of them is in retail.  Nonscientific, but they're also among the least tech-oriented of their peers.  That's Trouble with a capital T, and Forbes gets a capital F for ignoring it.  Then Rosenblum doubles down with all the glorious things retailers are doing to bring shoppers back, including the mall redesigns.  Earth to Paula: First tell me how this fits the financing models for these enterprises (It doesn't.), then tell me how it gets past the fact that it is aimed at a clientele that is dying (It doesn't.).

There is an even bigger reason Forbes is taking this position: Steve Forbes is taking this position.  Why?  Well, he's part of that dying off generation that thinks mall shopping is cool (or in his case that sending a servant to do mall shopping for you is cool).  But also, he can't see any of it.  As fewer people are able to consume, retail becomes increasingly dominated by custom-made products sold in controlled-access locations or even privately.  This is the world Steve Forbes knows, it's working just fine for him, and so no problem.  But if you consider dead real estate and vanishing jobs a problem, then you might have to differ with him.  I do.

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