Apocalypse Now

By |2017-11-16T14:57:37-04:00November 14th, 2017|Categories: Global Market Update|Tags: , , |

Are we regulating local retailers out of existence? Photo: Jonny. Source: Granola Shotgun There’s a recent story about a family in California that bought an old fire station for $250,000 with a view toward converting it into a bakery and micro-brew pub. This could be a very attractive retail business that would help revitalize a blighted part of their town. They were surprised to learn that they would have to spend almost $350,000 on sidewalks, curb-cuts, parking, [...]

The Death of Retail?

By |2017-07-27T11:06:09-04:00July 14th, 2017|Categories: Global Market Update|Tags: , , |

Are we facing a retail apocalypse? Photo: Cbikle. Source: Morguefile That’s the story that’s being told. Payless, Radio Shack, Rue21, and The Limited have all filed for bankruptcy this year, as have five other retailers. Over 4,000 physical stores have been impacted. There are fewer than 750 Kmart stores open now, down from over 2000 at their peak, and their owners plan to close more stores. Since late last year, general merchandise retailing has shed over 80 [...]

Online Monopoly?

By |2017-06-23T11:56:47-04:00June 23rd, 2017|Categories: Global Market Update|Tags: , |

Is Amazon a monopoly? Source: Amazon A monopoly exists when there is effectively only one supplier of a good or service. They can set the price, and anyone who wants what they’re selling has to pay it. There’s really no alternative. This was the case with Standard Oil in the late 19th century. They were an innovative oil refinery that bought out competitors in the oil products area, the integrated vertically with exploration and production enterprises to [...]

The Death of Retail?

By |2017-01-19T12:00:20-04:00January 18th, 2017|Categories: Global Market Update|Tags: , , |

“The report of my death was an exaggeration.” Photo: A.F. Bradley. Source: Library of Congress That’s how Mark Twain responded to a story that he was dying of poverty while on a visit to London. He was undecided whether to be annoyed or amused. He was just 62 at the time, and while a little frail, was in excellent health. A cousin of his – James Ross Clemens – had been seriously ill, and the papers confused [...]

Book ‘Em

By |2016-11-17T15:50:19-04:00May 23rd, 2016|Categories: Global Market Update|Tags: , , |

Why do we love old books? Photo: Diane Hope. Source: Morguefile There’s something romantic to “old book smell.” It’s a kind of earthy, musty aroma of old leather and paper. Maybe the smell invokes trips to the library when you were a child. It’s quite attractive to many people. There are even high-end perfumes that try to mimic it. Paper products release distinctive odors as they break down, notably lignin, which produces a vanilla-like scent as it [...]

Eating the World?

By |2016-11-17T16:35:32-04:00October 24th, 2014|Categories: Global Market Update|Tags: , , , , |

Maybe Amazon won’t be eating the world.Yesterday Amazon reported its third quarter results. And they weren’t pretty. In spite of growing revenues another 20% from a year ago, the company lost over $400 million the third quarter, up from a $40 million loss a year ago. Included in these numbers was a $170 million charge for their smartphone, which hasn’t been selling very well. […]

Reading the Future?

By |2016-11-17T16:41:24-04:00June 12th, 2014|Categories: Global Market Update|Tags: , , |

What are people reading?To see where we are going, we need to know where we are. One way to look at our culture is to look at what people are reading. For years, the New York Times’ bestseller list was how we found out what was on peoples’ bookshelves. Retailers would report what was sold, and the Times would aggregate the data.But that data can be manipulated. Authors can buy up their own books to inflate their [...]

The Law of Unintended Consequences

By |2016-11-17T17:17:11-04:00July 13th, 2012|Categories: Global Market Update|Tags: , , |

What’s up with retail stores?A list of the top-20 retailers in the US yields the usual suspects: Walgreen, Kroger, Target, and of course the 800-pound gorilla, Wal-Mart. In 2011 we spent over 1.1 trillion dollars on retail purchases from these stores—almost 8% of the economy, and a 5% increase from a year earlier.But there’s a new kid in town. […]