Bankrupt Once More

Payless ShoeSource is closing its 2,100 U.S. stores in what will be the largest-ever retailer liquidation when measured by the number of stores closing.

Payless was founded in 1956. In the 1990s the company sold 250 million pairs of shoes a year, in 2018 that number was estimated to be closer to 75 million pair.

Payless went through Chapter 11 bankruptcy restructuring less than two years ago and closed 500 stores. Creditors at the time became shareholders in the restructured company.

The company will begin liquidation sales at its U.S. and Puerto Rico stores this weekend. “We expect all stores to remain open until the end of March, and the majority will remain open until May,” a spokesman said.

The closings will increase pressure on already challenged U.S. retail malls, where Toys R Us, Sears, BonTon, and JCPenney have shut down stores. Payless said its international business, including Canada and Latin America will not be affected..

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Trust, Mistrust & Antitrust. Amazon is Not Broken. Should it be Fixed?

“In Amazon’s early years, a running joke among Wall Street analysts was that CEO Jeff Bezos was building a house of cards. Entering its sixth year in 2000, the company had yet to crack a profit and was mounting millions of dollars in continuous losses, each quarter’s larger than the last. Nevertheless, a segment of shareholders believed that by dumping money into advertising and steep discounts, Amazon was making a sound investment that would yield returns once e-commerce took off. Each quarter the company would report losses, and its stock price would rise. One news site captured the split sentiment by asking, “Amazon: Ponzi Scheme or Wal-Mart of the Web?”” – Lina Kahn, Yale Law Review

Eighteen years later, it’s no longer a joke. No one seriously doubts that Amazon is anything but the titan of twenty-first century commerce.

Success, efficiency and scale are achievements to be admired. Should they be regulated?

Continue reading “Trust, Mistrust & Antitrust. Amazon is Not Broken. Should it be Fixed?”

What if Amazon is Retail’s Only Hope?

“Retail Apocalypse.” The term has its own Wikipedia entry. This transformation, of “biblical” proportions, is often blamed on Amazon.

What if Amazon is not the brick-and-mortar store killer? What if Amazon is retail’s champion?

To paraphrase Mark Twain, the reports of retail’s death have been greatly exaggerated. The retail industry is not in dire shape, it’s in a different shape. Change is essential: it’s not easy, nor painless.

And, there is an important difference between correlation and causation. Amazon’s success and the disruption of the legacy retail market are certainly related, this does not mean one caused the other. Amazon did not overturn the traditional retail model: Macroeconomics drove this disruption.

Amazon is strategically and significantly investing in mortar-and-brick retail. Further, the company provides valuable tools to third-party retailers to help them succeed. And, critical to its own success, Amazon needs other retailers to thrive.

6 Reasons the Current Retail Transformation Was Inevitable

Continue reading “What if Amazon is Retail’s Only Hope?”

Will Another 80,000 Retail Stores Close?

Take a deep breath… 

UBS Financial estimates that for every 1 percent increase in eCommerce penetration to total retail sales (excluding food & gas), 9,000 retail stores would need to close in order to maintain current levels of sales per physical store. 


This would be the equivalent to shutting down seven Toys ‘R’ Us chains. 


Continue reading “Will Another 80,000 Retail Stores Close?”

Disruption is Inevitable, Essential & Painful

America has too many stores, too much inventory, and too few shoppers.

Macy’s, JC Penney, Sears, J. Crew and other major retailers have already announced that they will be closing stores because in the new retail landscape they cannot justify the return on these expensive fixed assets – and because customers no longer choose to spend their money in old-model retail stores.

The market capitalization of American department stores dropped nearly $80 Billion since 1999, according to Census data.

The cost of disruption is more than store closings and diminished market caps, it’s people and jobs. Macy’s and JC Penney, alone, will be closing over 200 stores and eliminating over 12,000 jobs.

You can not shrink your way to success. However, you can buy yourself more runway. Continue reading “Disruption is Inevitable, Essential & Painful”