Saturday, April 08, 2017

Let them eat cakes!

Most students work part-time, unlike my story when I was an undergraduate student.  In contrast to these students, I was an idle, good for nothing, bum.  I wasted away my time bullshitting with other students.  My parents paid for my tuition and living expenses.  Hey, at least I didn't waste money on alcohol and movies and cigarettes!

With my students, I am always worried that they are doing too many things with the hope that a real and well-paying awaits once they graduate.  In one-to-one conversations, I don't bluntly burst that bubble that is the well-paying job--I do that in the group therapy sessions called classes.  

Last term, a student walked in about five minutes late for a meeting with me.  I gave her time to settle down.  I slowly asked her, "you looked frazzled today."

"I just need more time to sleep," she replied.  "After I graduate, with no school anymore, at least I will be able to sleep more," she added.

At least she has a part-time job for now, in contrast to another student who told me that she was finding it difficult to land any part-time retail job.  "I have always been an excellent student, and I am reasonably good with communications, and yet nothing."  She was frustrated.  I told her about yet another student who was working at a retail store and how I told her to hang on to it because the retail industry is being decimated at a rapid rate.

Forever, I have been talking and writing about the destruction of the retail business here in the US.  It was clear to us ever since we started using the word e-commerce back when the web was still in its infancy.  Brick and mortar would be killed by click and order.  Bookstores were pretty much the first to be caught in this, and then every kind of retail business.  The latest news is more along these lines:
The battered American retail industry took a few more lumps this week, with stores at both ends of the price spectrum preparing to close their doors.
At the bottom, the seemingly ubiquitous Payless Inc. shoe chain filed for bankruptcy and announced plans to shutter hundreds of locations. Ralph Lauren Corp., meanwhile, said it will close its flagship Fifth Avenue Polo store -- a symbol of old-fashioned luxury that no longer resonates with today’s shoppers.
And the teen-apparel retailer Rue21 Inc. could be the next casualty. The chain, which has about 1,000 stores, is preparing to file for bankruptcy as soon as this month, according to people familiar with the situation. Just a few years ago, it was sold to private equity firm Apax Partners for about a billion dollars.
People click their orders on (and a gazillion other sites) and the retail brick and mortar stores go bankrupt.  When businesses go bankrupt, jobs evaporate.
The rapid descent of so many retailers has left shopping malls with hundreds of slots to fill, and the pain could be just beginning. More than 10 percent of U.S. retail space, or nearly 1 billion square feet, may need to be closed, converted to other uses or renegotiated for lower rent in coming years, according to data provided to Bloomberg by CoStar Group.
The blight also is taking a toll on jobs. According to Labor Department figures released on Friday, retailers cut around 30,000 positions in March. That was about the same total as in February and marked the worst two-month showing since 2009.
Those laid off workers now join the competition to find at least part-time work, which makes it next to impossible for students to find the kind of part-time work that was once typically done by students.
Payless is closing 400 stores as part of a bankruptcy plan announced on Tuesday. The mammoth chain had roughly 4,000 locations and 22,000 employees -- more than it needs to handle sluggish demand.
HHGregg Inc., Gordmans Stores Inc. and Gander Mountain Co. all entered bankruptcy this year. RadioShack, meanwhile, filed for Chapter 11 for the second time in two years.
Other companies are plowing ahead with store closures outside of bankruptcy court. Sears Holdings Corp., Macy’s Inc. and J.C. Penney Co. are shutting hundreds of locations combined, reeling from an especially punishing slump in the department-store industry.
It is a tough world out there.

Meanwhile, the bullshitting Republicans continue to tell people that they should pull themselves up by their bootstraps.  Very rarely do students have bootstraps like the ones my parents gave me for them to pull themselves up!  


Ramesh said...

Yes, traditional retail is being hit by e commerce, but it will never evaporate. It will shrink, but come to a steady state ; people will always go to a place to shop for some things at least. Just to mention that in India both physical and online markets are growing at a rapid rate - sure India might not have had malls before, but it was a very developed retail market always.

You should also mention in a post like this that if e commerce grows, equal number of jobs are created by people who have to manage inventory and more importantly deliver the last mile. Amazon hired 100,000 employees in the US during 2016.

Sriram Khé said...

Yes, Amazon and WalMart and others added plenty of jobs in the warehousing and distribution end ... ( ... But, I can already see plenty of problems with this, especially: This will be one hell of a high turnover jobs, with rapid worker burnout rates
It is like the TSA attrition issue ...
Which means that the e-commerce operations will drive towards more and more automation--Amazon is already one of the largest "employers" of robots in its warehouses ...

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