Blame Amazon?  Not Me. Just Ask Mid-West Department Stores!

Blame Amazon? Not Me. Just Ask Mid-West Department Stores!

It happened a couple months ago.  It was one of my typical very early mornings watching CNBC.  When I heard that Amazon was buying Whole Foods, yes, I let out the stereotypical huge gasp.

On August 24th, the Federal Trade Commission approved this nearly $14B deal.

Jim Cramer also gasps when he breaks the news that Amazon is buying Whole Foods.

Once I got over my initial early morning caffeine-stoked shock, I came to the same understanding as the rest of the world.  OK, this is finally, finally, finally it.  Now do we all get it?  It really is mobile 1st and digital always from here on out.

But Wait.

Technicolor memories of my retail career then started to ramp up.  Growing up in the Mid-West, shopping was everything. There were tons of amazing department stores based in Chicago. Consumer products became my career of choice.  Then, all the department stores started to disappear.  These were massive stores.  They were institutions.  One by one, they faded away.

The non-stop disappearance of these amazing department stores started to happen long before Amazon came around.  To illustrate the point, all we have to do is look at the biggies that were once the fabric of Chicago’s famous retailing.

Check out the timeline below for the disappearance of some of Mid-West’s biggest retailers:

Stores out of business timeline
The Disappearance of Chicago’s Best & Biggest Department Stores

As you can see this started happening waaaaay before Amazon came around.   I loved these stores, but I could see the writing on the wall, even back then.  Maybe I am lucky. I always felt I knew digital was the forecast of consumer products. Maybe me and my retail career have been primed all along for this tectonic shift.

“I loved these stores, but I could see the writing on the wall. Sure, we are where we are now because of the Amazon might.  However, I argue this a bit differently.  I say we are where we are now because the consumer decided it so. “   

 

People vote clearly and loudly with their purchases choices.   See the yellow line below in the graph?  Look to the far right and you will see the Amazon growth acceleration, especially since September 2015.  In all, Amazon’s market share grew 5x since 2013.

Blame Amazon Not Me. Department stores have been disappearing long before Amazon started taking market share.
Amazon Grows Market Share 5x Since 2013

 

If you are in marketing, you know this already- Ultimately, the consumer is always the boss.  So, while Amazon is the latest key player, they are not the total reason.  It is, as always, all about the consumer.

It’s always been this way and it will always be this way.

Madison Luxe Group is an innovative beauty, fashion and lifestyle luxury brand retail sales distributor and marketing consulting agency founder Christine C. Oddo and Madison Luxe Group
Christine C. Oddo founder Madison Luxe Group, author The Christine Report Blog christine@madisonluxegroup.com

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