Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Business Wednesday

Changes in retail are happening at an amazing pace.

HH Gregg is closing nearly 100 stores.  Penney's is closing about 140 stores.  Macy's is closing stores.  Sears and Kmart remain on life support.  Business publications speculate Gander Mountain will file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

Target is making some changes to win back customers.

Walmart is cutting grocery prices because places like Aldi are taking a bite out of its profits.

Dollar stores, like Dollar Tree, Dollar General, and Family Dollar are expanding.

You can blame some of it on the internet, but not all of it.

I'm a big fan of internet shopping.  In fact, I bought a book just before I started this blog entry.  It's so easy to click a couple of things, and have it at your house in one or two days.

Sears and Kmart stores have gotten run down and shabby.  You can't blame that on the internet.  It's a lack of investment on the part of the owner.

Macy's and Penney's have become boring.

HH Gregg is relatively new to this part of Pennsylvania.  It's tough for any newcomer to crack the hold Home Depot and Lowe's have on appliance sales.

I'm not an outdoorsman, so I can't speculate on what Gander Mountain did wrong.  I've been there to look around.  I don't remember ever buying anything there.

What can you say about Walmart?  They're always open (most stores).  Decent prices.  However, they have a problem getting you in and out in an efficient manner.  Check out lines are always too long.  Hey, Walmart, if you want to increase sales, hire more people.

Target used to be cool.  Now, it's just mundane.  The stores have become plain and bland.  They look the same as everyone else.

The slimmed down Radio Shack is said to be on the way out for good.  As I noted here the last time Radio Shack closed a batch of stores, these stores used to be the neatest place on the planet.  The arrival of the yearly catalog was a major event.  There was something you wanted on just about every page.  Others came along to do it better.

Shifting gears to fast food...

Wendy's will be installing self order kiosks in about 1,000 of its restaurants.  It doesn't appear to be a bad idea.  I've used them in Sheetz and Wawa.  They work well, and it does seem to eliminate error orders.  On the other hand, it just seems like an easy way to eliminate some employees.

McDonald's says it will be experimenting with a lot of things, as it tries to reverse a slide in customer visits.  On the list are self order kiosks, home delivery, ordering and paying through a smart phone app, restaurant renovations and menu tweaks.  I pass by several McDonald's on a daily basis.  There is always a line at the drive through.  That tells me, even though sales have slipped, the places remain popular.  It also says McDonald's needs to work on get its customers in and out faster.  The company admits it lost 500 million customer visits to competitors since 2012.  That's a big problem.

While McDonald's does have a speed and service problem, the chain just can't shake the reputation that its food is bad for you.  I'm a firm believer in the "everything in moderation" school.  You shouldn't eat there every day, but a burger every once in a while isn't going to hurt you.