|Logos from store websites|
I feel bad about these retail stores on the brink of closing: Abercrombie, Sears, the Gap ("Where you might not shop in 2013," Yahoo news, Jan. 11, 2012). .I just read that Penny's and Radio Shack, and several others, are in trouble too.
I don't understand the business of retail, except to know it can be almost as precarious as opening a new restaurant. And online massive open platforms, including for shopping, are making bricks-and-mortar institutions across the board in every sector obsolete.
But I grew up with Sears, when it was Sears and Roebuck and had a fabulous catalog and Christmas Wish edition. My grandkids think Abercrombie is a fun store, dark and thumping; they have several t-shirts with its name blazoned on them. And the Gap, well, it's a family store, too, sporty casual clothing of quality, jeans, sweaters, and tops for men and women, young and old.
Maybe it has to do with changing fashions? The tech revolution? Spreading online access, worldwide? Even the village of Starobelsk in eastern Ukraine, where I lived for two years, is now wired!
With Sears I can see that its old stores in old buildings are no longer up-to-date and futuristic-looking enough to appeal to the younger digital generation that likes modernity. But Abercrombie is pretty hip, isn't it? And the Gap can be re-created for the future, can't it?
We live in a transient society, ever-changing, ever mobile, ever frenzied. Brand loyalty, like job loyalty, is frivilous, a relic of the past. Convenience, conspicuous online buying, hipness matter more than ever.
Technology and spiriling digital innovation are doing the same thing today. Hewlett Packer author Ken_Howard, in "Retailers consider Digital commerce," HP Discover, Jan. 10, 2012, wrote that:
"The retail industry is facing a tall set of challenges as it enters 2013. The convergence of new trends in technology, economics and society are compelling retailers to transform their enterprise around the modern consumer....In particular, retailers must understand and adapt to modern consumers whose loyalty hinges on the latest experience or peer review—all while making IT work for the business, improving the supply chain, ensuring data security, and managing costs."
I guess that's it in a nutshell, the words of an IT guru for today's retailers. Echoes of Veblen.
Some people think that educational institutions of higher learning are not far behind.