Retail business as we know it has all but disappeared from large and small cities across America. 

Every month there are announcements of retail store closings including Fred’s, CVS, Walgreens, Macy’s, Office Depot, Sears, Kmart, and so many more will be shutting their doors for good. 

How did Retail America get this bad so quickly? Long before COVID-19 raised its ugly head across America, retail stores began the process of filing for bankruptcy due to profit ratios falling below quarterly earnings reports and creditors and distributors of store goods were wanting their money. 

Even as major retail stores attempted to restructure, the top executives did nothing to reenergize the corporate struggles. Many CEOs, CFOs, and top executives continued to sell off thousands of stock shares they had acquired through the stock market. Most sell offs resulted in millions of dollars being sold and the saying “the poor keep getting poorer and the rich keep getting richer”  is true unless your poor and you win the lottery.  

Does the name Jeff Bezos ring a bell? He is the owner of Amazon. Bezos started his business in 1995 as an online bookstore and now is the largest online retail-shipping provider in the world. Due to his huge success in acquiring name brand companies to sell their product through his home delivery operations, he also has his own fleet of delivery vehicles in larger cities and his company is in partnership with UPS and FEDEX for home delivery across America. 

Since Bezos’ astronomical success in home delivery service, retail corporations have found online selling to be more profitable than operating a brick and mortar store, which requires large overhead to operate on a monthly basis. It will not be many more years before the large grocery chains start their own home delivery operations. At this time, you do not have to go into a grocery store to shop. You do it online and the store gives you a time to pick up your order. It is just that easy. 

Between COVID-19, the likes of Amazon and zealous corporate managers cashing in stock shares as their companies go under, the continued loss of tax dollars and as the financial stability of retail workforce labor continues to falter, it will take American businesses longer to recover from this Retail Apocalypse. Malls, stand-alone stores and open-air markets will eventually be a thing of the past. Can this run-away train of store closures be slowed down? Probably not. We should have known when the retail giants stopped printing catalogs years ago that was the forewarning of things to come. The loss of jobs will continue as retail corporations continue to close their doors. 

City and county general budgets will decrease thereby creating the need to raise taxes in some manner and usually property taxes will increase.

 In today’s retail market, continue to shop in-store while you can. In the future, venturing out to a mall will soon be only a memory. Load up your smart phone with retail apps and shop while eating, going to church or sitting in a sports complex. 

It really does not matter where you are, you can shop until your fingers go numb or you run out of money. 

Retail jobs in America continue to decline due to the wild world of technology and business developers who are willing to push the limits of online shopping. Unless you are disabled, put your phone down, drive to a store near you and go inside — you might even run into a friend you have not spoken to in years.

                                 

•Thomas Ammons lives in Blackshear and is a retired warden with the Georgia Department of Corrections.