The End Of Retail?

Matt Yglesias has some indicative numbers:

One month of data can be very noisy, but I think that if you look at March 2011 compared to March 2012 you can clearly see the End of Retail.

According to the BLS, about 2 million more people were working last month than were working a year ago. But we have 10,000 fewer people working in general merchandise stores. We have 20,000 fewer people working in electronics and appliance stores. We have 17,000 fewer people working in “sporting goods, hobby, book, and music stores.” Now the overall BLS retail trade category includes other stuff including things like health and personal care stores that seem healthy. But the point is that over the course of a year in which the level of economic activity has clearly risen, certain major categories of big box retail have shed jobs. Given a few months in a row of torrid overall growth, presumably some of that would stabilize. But I think you have to see this as a part of the economy that’s facing a persistent decline driven by e-commerce, a decline that should only accelerate since a ton of people are going to get their first smartphone in the next 12-18 months.

2 thoughts on “The End Of Retail?

  1. It makes sense to me.

    I find myself doing more and more of my shopping with the Internet. The reason is that if I buy at stores, I often find myself driving to several stores, burning expensive gasoline and wasting time as I do so, before finally finding what I want. Also, stores are now less likely to have helpful personnel to help customers find what they are looking for. It’s often faster and cheaper to use the Internet for shopping, except for very common and standard items which can be readily found in retail stores.

    For people who don’t like computers and don’t want to fool with anti-virus software and continually make updates, there should be special computers available just for shopping and handling e-mails. That would accelerate the demise of retail stores and greatly help people, such as elderly people, who cannot easily leave home to do the shopping.

  2. (…) there should be special computers available just for shopping and handling e-mails.

    Heh. There is – it’s called an iOS device, an iPad or iPhone. For sure, retailers are not happy when you walk into their store carrying your iPad.

Comments are closed.