Dead Mall Stalking: One Hedge Fund Manager’s Tour Across Middle-America – Part 3

Via AdventuresInCapitalism.com,
Part 1 here…
Part 2 here…
Ever since the first Sears catalog was published in 1888 (the Amazon.com of its day), pundits have called for the death of retail establishments. It’s easy to see why they would think that such a thing was happening – namely stores around them were closing in rapid succession. Of course, these successive waves of retail disruption (the appearance of Woolworth’s, SS Kresge, K-Mart, Wal-Mart, the advent of malls, big box stores, the birth of suburbia, online shopping, etc.) have occurred and only served to make American retail stronger and more versatile. Only two decades ago, the mere mention of a Wal-Mart coming to a town would lead to near riots as disparate groups from local retailers to unions would unite to protest. Now, Wal-Mart itself is struggling against online retail. Despite more than a century of change, disruption and repeated waves of retailer bankruptcies, the only constant is that consumer spending has increased each decade. In the end, consumers want stuff, they just want different stuff; delivered in different ways. Those who can figure out where retail is going, are set to earn excessive profits.
I started this whole adventure (Mall Tour 1, Mall Tour 2) to see what I could learn about the direction that retail is going. While it is obvious that online shopping will control a growing percentage of the pie when it comes to retail, there will be many niches in the world of bricks and mortar that also thrive – despite or possibly because of online. If you look back twenty years, Wal-Mart’s assault on the retail industry only abated when retailers stopped competing on price, and started competing on quality, selection and service instead. If online shopping will further broaden the powers of selection and service, where are the remaining niches?

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Aug 28, 2017.

 

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