Apocalypse Now

By | 2017-11-14T06:52:40+00:00 November 14th, 2017|Global Market Update|

Are we regulating local retailers out of existence? Photo: Jonny. Source: Granola Shotgun There’s a recent story about a family in California that bought an old fire station for $250,000 with a view toward converting it into a bakery and micro-brew pub. This could be a very attractive retail business that would help revitalize a blighted part of their town. They were surprised to learn that they would have to spend almost $350,000 on sidewalks, curb-cuts, parking, storm drains, handicapped access, landscaping – and [...]

The Death of Retail?

By | 2017-07-17T16:43:47+00:00 July 14th, 2017|Global Market Update|

Are we facing a retail apocalypse? Photo: Cbikle. Source: Morguefile That’s the story that’s being told. Payless, Radio Shack, Rue21, and The Limited have all filed for bankruptcy this year, as have five other retailers. Over 4,000 physical stores have been impacted. There are fewer than 750 Kmart stores open now, down from over 2000 at their peak, and their owners plan to close more stores. Since late last year, general merchandise retailing has shed over 80 thousand jobs. The phrase, “Retail apocalypse,” even [...]

Online Monopoly?

By | 2017-07-17T12:21:17+00:00 June 22nd, 2017|Global Market Update|

Is Amazon a monopoly? Source: Amazon A monopoly exists when there is effectively only one supplier of a good or service. They can set the price, and anyone who wants what they’re selling has to pay it. There’s really no alternative. This was the case with Standard Oil in the late 19th century. They were an innovative oil refinery that bought out competitors in the oil products area, the integrated vertically with exploration and production enterprises to become the largest oil company in the [...]

The Death of Retail?

By | 2017-07-17T12:21:31+00:00 January 18th, 2017|Uncategorized|

"the report of my death was an exaggeration" Photo: A.F. Bradley. Source: Library of Congress  That’s how Mark Twain responded to a story that he was dying of poverty while on a visit to London. He was undecided whether to be annoyed or amused. He was just 62 at the time, and while a little frail, was in excellent health. A cousin of his – James Ross Clemens – had been seriously ill, and the papers confused the two. The report of Twain’s illness [...]

Book ‘Em

By | 2017-07-17T12:21:57+00:00 May 20th, 2016|Global Market Update|

Why do we love old books? Photo: Diane Hope. Source: Morguefile There’s something romantic to “old book smell.” It’s a kind of earthy, musty aroma of old leather and paper. Maybe the smell invokes trips to the library when you were a child. It’s quite attractive to many people. There are even high-end perfumes that try to mimic it. Paper products release distinctive odors as they break down, notably lignin, which produces a vanilla-like scent as it decomposes. Various presses use different sources of [...]

Eating the World?

By | 2017-07-17T12:23:15+00:00 October 24th, 2014|Global Market Update|

Maybe Amazon won’t be eating the world. Source: redbubble.com Yesterday Amazon reported its third quarter results. And they weren’t pretty. In spite of growing revenues another 20% from a year ago, the company lost over $400 million the third quarter, up from a $40 million loss a year ago. Included in these numbers was a $170 million charge for their smartphone, which hasn’t been selling very well. […]

Main Street, Internet Style

By | 2017-07-17T12:34:15+00:00 August 28th, 2014|Global Market Update|

Is Amazon consuming the consumer? It sure feels that way. Over the past five years they’ve grown and grown and grown, while traditional retailers like Sears, Radio Shack, and JC Penney have struggled. Office supply stores like Staples and Office have really been hit. In fact, foot traffic is down in all the malls: Source: WSJ, 1/16/14 Retail is changing. It’s just more convenient to order stuff from the internet than to go to a store. As smartphones with shopping apps become more ubiquitous, [...]

Reading the Future

By | 2017-07-17T12:34:17+00:00 June 12th, 2014|Global Market Update|

What are people reading? To see where we are going, we need to know where we are. One way to look at our culture is to look at what people are reading. For years, the New York Times’ bestseller list was how we found out what was on peoples’ bookshelves. Retailers would report what was sold, and the Times would aggregate the data. But that data can be manipulated. Authors can buy up their own books to inflate their numbers. Consultants can break up [...]

The Competitive Edge (Part 3)

By | 2014-02-19T11:36:14+00:00 February 19th, 2014|Global Market Update|

It’s not so easy. Picking growth companies that can benefit from social or technological trends isn’t like going to the grocery store and buying a gallon of milk. A case in point is Amazon. That company would seem to epitomize a growth stock. They’ve expanded from selling books online to selling pretty much everything; they’ve designed and delivered a powerful e-reader that’s re-making the publishing industry; and their web-site hosts hundreds of other companies that want to pursue e-commerce. Their sales have increased from [...]