The US Retail Industry is Collapsing: Here’s Why You’re in Trouble

by Daisy Luther, The Organic Prepper

Shopping malls across America are going to look a whole lot emptier soon. An exodus of giant retailers is beginning with the announcement of hundreds of store closures and thousands of people newly unemployed.

The first of January, I broke with my usual tradition and wrote not about positive resolutions, but about the impending rockslide of the US economy. And “rockslide” is an apt word: as one thing starts rolling down the mountain, it will pick up other things until a veritable avalanche of other businesses and people are affected and rolling pell-mell right alongside.

Last year, we saw announcements of the expected closure of some retail giants. In February of 2013, Michael Snyder wrote on The Economic Collapse Blog that we would see the following:

Best Buy

Forecast store closings: 200 to 250

Sears Holding Corp.

Forecast store closings: Kmart 175 to 225, Sears 100 to 125

J.C. Penney

Forecast store closings: 300 to 350

Office Depot

Forecast store closings: 125 to 150

Barnes & Noble

Forecast store closings: 190 to 240, per company comments

Gamestop

Forecast store closings: 500 to 600

OfficeMax

Forecast store closings: 150 to 175

RadioShack

Forecast store closings: 450 to 550

Unfortunately, it didn’t stop there. This morning, a World News Daily report announced:

Macy’s is closing 14 of its 790 stores across the country.

JCPenney is closing 39 of its stores and laying off 2,250 workers.

Sears has been around for 122 years, but it, too, is closing 235 under-performing stores. 

C. Wonder, the preppy retailer, is going out of business, closing all 11 of its U.S. stores in the next few weeks.

Wet Seal is closing 338 retail stores while dealing with bankruptcy proceedings. Nearly 3,700 full- and part-time workers will be unemployed.

Aeropostale, suffering from declining sales, closed 75 stores during the holiday season, which runs from November through January. And in 2015, they expect to close an additional 50 to 75 stores.

RadioShack, which is negotiating with lenders to gain approval to shutter 1,100 stores, said last month that it closed 175 locations in 2014. (source)

Even holiday sales, normally high, plummeted this Christmas.

How does this affect you?

You may not work in retail yourself, but never doubt that the mass closure of these businesses will directly affect you..

Maybe you are wondering how.  You aren’t much of a shopper. You aren’t a retail worker. Perhaps you believe you can compartmentalize this information, pack it away, and go on with your life as you always have.

The thing is, it’s not just the patrons and employees of these stores who are affected. This is going to be catastrophic on a variety of levels.

Let’s go a little bit deeper.

Think about the people who worked in these stores. Now, they’re without jobs. There will be more competition for the smaller number of jobs in America, and many people will not be able to find work. They’ll survive by going on assistance, draining the US coffers even more. As formerly employed people search for work that just isn’t there, we’ll see an increase in foreclosures, repossessions, and welfare.

Think about those who provided the inventory for these stores. Yes, I know a lot of it was made in other countries. But, it was imported here and distributed here. Most businesses work on a “Net-30″ basis, meaning the inventory is delivered, and the payment for that inventory is due in 30 days. And guess what? The companies that imported the merchandise aren’t going to get paid. This will ripple through and cause other businesses to go under, which means still more people are unemployed.

Think about those who transport the inventory. Trucking companies and the independent operators who drive the trucks won’t get money owed to them either. As companies struggle to keep trucks on the road, transport costs will go up, which will cause future inventory in stores to be priced higher.

This is how we’ll be affected:

  • The price of everything is going to go up because wary distributors are going to try to recoup what they’ve lost from these companies that went under, while transporters increase prices to try to cover losses.
  • Jobs will be even harder to get than they were previously – and looking at the unemployment rates, it was pretty darned difficult before.
  • When people have no jobs, they spend no money, crushing the manufacturer’s and retailer’s economy even more.
  • As financial desperation increases, so will crime. And it won’t just be property crime – expect an uptick in violence as property owners fight back.

If you don’t live in an entirely self-sufficient bubble, you can bet you’ll be affected in one way or another.

What can you do about the collapsing economy?

It’s more vital than ever to be aware of what’s going on and to start getting prepared for it on all levels. You need to consider the following:

Create multiple streams of income.  We’d all like to feel like we’re reliably employed, but that’s just not true. You need only to look at the numbers above to see that jobs can be ephemeral. You need to be making money from more than one source (multiple streams of income). Start a small business that provides a safety net. Check out this great article on Graywolf Survival for more information on how to do it.

Learn to shop wisely. A couple of years ago, I wrote this article about how shopping wisely can save you a fortune on your regular purchases. Each purchase needs to be thought out carefully because the day may come when your own personal economic collapse occurs in the form of a job loss, an illness, or a catastrophic bill.

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