So long, Sears!

The decline of retail stores in a new age of internet shopping


Retail store going out of business. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons via Creative Commons.

Theo Drescher, Author

In a new age of the internet, people are finding new ways to make their lives easier and more convenient. This includes touch screen cell phones, smart TVs, and increased accessibility to the world through the internet. People are now able to do almost everything from their devices, including browsing the web to watching movies and shopping for everyday goods.  The American Marketing Association states, Retail is easier than ever to transact. Products are easier to use. Experiences are easier to enjoy. Almost everything difficult has fallen by the wayside, and whatever remains will be supplanted soon enough as well.” However, this increase in online shopping and convenience has recently led to competition between online and physical stores, in which many physical stores cannot keep up. This includes local small stores and “retail giants.” sells “everything from a to z”, as per their motto, while retail stores only sell one particular selection of items. Retail stores, such as Sears, are unable to keep up with the convenience of online shopping, which causes them to become bankrupt.

Take Sears, for example, who just filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy on Monday, October 8. The Chapter 11 Bankruptcy they filed means that the company will go through restructuring, in which they will have to close 142 of its stores throughout the US. Sears has been open since shortly after the civil war, and in many ways, was the Amazon of its time. They sold everything from clothes to build-your-own house kits. Paul Adler, chief strategy officer of Rand Commercial, a real estate firm, says that Sears was successful before because it understood the needs of its customers. “They were the first retailer that allowed you to buy something without being in stores. They are really the first ‘online’ service retailer, and they never kept it up. They never modernized it.” Adler believes that is the prime reason the retail giant failed to “stay alive.” Other examples of this can be found all over the globe, including locally.

Sports Authority, a sports retail company, closed all of its remaining stores in 2016 after the company failed to restructure following the closing 140 of its stores, similar to Sears. The company had 450 stores, including one in Gainesville. The store location is now the home of Hobby Lobby, an arts and crafts store. Ryan Strotheide, a freshman who is a multiple-sport student-athlete who frequently shopped there, states, “I think sports authority closed down because Dick’s had a better selection, and ran Sports Authority out of business with their prices. I also think it went out of business because Dick’s website was more user-friendly and had more sizes and styles available. I do not think local stores will go out of business because they are special to this area making them popular among many consumers. Their popularity makes consumers want to come into the store instead of shopping online.” Strotheide agrees that Sports Authority’s failure to keep up was its downfall, and hopes that local businesses will not fall victim to the internet.

On the other hand, there is Valorie Mancinelli, a junior and avid online shopper. “I shop online rather in stores because online, the store always has your size,” She states, “And it’s more convenient for me because I can’t drive [myself] yet.” Mancinelli also stated that shopping online is easier because it saves more time in the long run and that it is ultimately cheaper due to a lack of sales tax.

In the end, this decline of a classic American enterprise is happening, and it is truly the end of an era. However, a new horizon awaits: and that is the future of technology.