Two More Victims Of The Retail Apocalypse: Family Dollar And Coldwater Creek

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Two More Victims Of The Retail Apocalypse: Family Dollar And Coldwater Creek  (Economic Collapse, April 17, 2014):

Did you know that Family Dollar is closing 370 stores? When I learned of this, I was quite stunned. I knew that retailers that serve the middle class were really struggling right now, but I had no idea that things had gotten so bad for low end stores like Family Dollar. In the post-2008 era, dollar stores had generally been one of the few bright spots in the retail industry. As millions of Americans fell out of the middle class, they were looking to stretch their family budgets as far as possible, and dollar stores helped them do that. It would be great if we could say that the reason why Family Dollar is doing so poorly is because average Americans have more money now and have resumed shopping at retailers that target the middle class, but that is not happening. Rather, as you will see later in this article, things just continue to get even worse for Americans at the low end of the income scale.

I was also surprised to learn that Coldwater Creek is closing all of their stores

Women’s clothing retailer Coldwater Creek Inc. on Friday filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy after failing to find a buyer said it plans to close its stores by early summer.

Coldwater Creek joins other retailers to seek protection from creditors in recent months as consumers keep a lid on spending.

The company said it plans to wind down its operations over the coming months and begin going-out-of-business sales in early May, before the traditionally busy Mother’s Day weekend.

Coldwater Creek, which has 365 stores and employs about 6,000 people, has five stores in Maryland.

I remember browsing through a Coldwater Creek with my wife and mother-in-law just last year. At the time, my mother-in-law was excited about getting one of their catalogs. But now Coldwater Creek is going out of business, and all that will be left of that store is a big, ugly, empty space.

Of course the fact that a couple of major retailers are closing stores is nothing new. This kind of thing happens year after year.

But what we are witnessing right now is really quite startling. So many retailers are closing so many stores that it is being called a “retail apocalypse”. In a previous article entitled “This Is What Employment In America Really Looks Like…“, I detailed how major U.S. retailers have already announced the closing of thousands of stores so far this year.  If the economy really was “getting better”, this should not be happening.

So why are so many stores closing?

Well, the truth is that it is because the middle class is dying. With each passing day, more Americans lose their place in the middle class and fall into poverty. The following is an excerpt from the story of one man that this has happened to. His recent piece in the Huffington Post was entitled “Next Friday, I’ll Be Living In My Car“…

For the past 13 years, I’ve mostly been doing facility management in several locations across the state. After the position turned into more of a sales role, they laid me off. Since then, I’ve been looking to find any type of work. I’ve applied for food stamps, and I’m waiting for that. I’m mostly eating soup from a food pantry.

I’ve been on several interviews — second, third, fourth interviews — and just haven’t been able to land a job for whatever reason. I definitely have the qualifications and the experience. Last week, I had a job offer that I thought was secure, and we were talking my work schedule. They decided to call me back and go with an assistant rather than a manager.

For a number of applications, I’ve dumbed down my resume. I don’t even go with a resume sometimes, just because I don’t want them to know that I’m educated and have a master’s degree. It shoots me in the foot. They don’t want me because they don’t think I’m going to stay. I don’t blame them. I was making six figures at $60-70 an hour. Now, I’m looking for a $10 an hour job.

There are millions upon millions of Americans that can identify with what that man is going through.

Once upon a time, they were living comfortable middle class lifestyles, but now they will take any jobs that they can get.

Just today I came across a statistic that shows the massive shift that is happening in this country. A decade ago, the number of women working outnumbered the number of women on food stamps by more than a 2 to 1 margin. But now the number of women on food stamps actually exceeds the number of women that have jobs.

Wow.

How could things have changed so rapidly over the course of just one decade?

And sadly, things continue to go downhill. Every day in America, more good jobs are being sent out of the country or are being replaced by technology. I really like how James Altucher described this trend the other day…

Technology, outsourcing, a growing temp staffing industry, productivity efficiencies, have all replaced the middle class.

The working class. Most jobs that existed 20 years ago aren’t needed now. Maybe they never were needed. The entire first decade of this century was spent with CEOs in their Park Avenue clubs crying through their cigars, “how are we going to fire all this dead weight?”. 2008 finally gave them the chance. “It was the economy!” they said. The country has been out of a recession since 2009. Four years now. But the jobs have not come back. I asked many of these CEOs: did you just use that as an excuse to fire people, and they would wink and say, “let’s just leave it at that.”

I’m on the board of directors of a temp staffing company with one billion dollars in revenues. I can see it happening across every sector of the economy. Everyone is getting fired. Everyone is toilet paper now.

Flush.

There is so little loyalty in corporate America these days. If you work for a major corporation, you could literally lose your job at any moment. And you can be sure that there is someone above you that is trying to figure out a way to accomplish the tasks that you currently perform much more cheaply and much more efficiently.

Most big corporations don’t care if you are personally successful or if you are able to take care of your family. What they want is to get as much out of you as possible for as little money as possible.

This is a big reason why 62 percent of all Americans make $20 or less an hour at this point.

The quality of our jobs is going down, but the cost of living just keeps going up. Just look at what is happening to food prices. For a detailed examination of this, please see my previous article entitled “Why Meat Prices Are Going To Continue Soaring For The Foreseeable Future“.

As the middle class slowly dies, less people are able to afford to buy homes. Mortgage originations at major U.S. banks have fallen to a record low, and the percentage of Americans that live in “high-poverty neighborhoods” is rising rapidly

An estimated 12.4 million Americans live in economically devastated neighborhoods, according to American Community Survey data collected from 2008 to 2012. That’s an 11 percent jump from the previous survey, conducted from 2007 to 2011. Even more startling, it’s a 72 percent increase in the population of high-poverty neighborhoods since the 2000 Census.

If nothing is done about the long-term trends that are slowly strangling the middle class to death, all of this will just be the beginning.

We will see millions more Americans lose their jobs, millions more Americans lose their homes and millions more Americans living in poverty.

The United States is being fundamentally transformed, and very few people are doing much of anything to stand in the way of this transformation. Decades of incredibly foolish decisions are starting to catch up with us, and unless something dramatic is done right away, all of these problems will soon get much, much worse.

5 thoughts on “Two More Victims Of The Retail Apocalypse: Family Dollar And Coldwater Creek

  1. Once again, pre-programmed comfort, years of the success of the American Dream based on unending Credit…..nobody bothered to look into it.

    Lenders lend to get interest. They also create the money they lend from thin air.
    So they get interest from thin air.
    But we owe them interest on that thin air.

    Fabulous logic.

  2. People are more interested in keeping a decent roof over their heads, and clean food and water on their tables than in shopping……..the entire world is blowing up, and nobody admits the truth.
    When you cannot believe the news sources, you cannot believe your leaders. When leaders lose credibility, societies fall apart, and civilizations vanish. That is what is happening now, only people are too stupid to realize it…….they have no sense of history.

  3. As one who used to make six figures a year, I feel for this guy. We cannot rely on anyone to give us a job. All we can do is the best we can. People need to create things they can do that others will need. The system is collapsing, the entire world economy is imploding. The greedy guts stole it all. But, now they have it all, except safe air to breathe, safe water to drink and clean food to eat. Our poisons from greedy gut growers, radioactive poisons and thousands of others too many to mention, we have reached the end of our tether. There is nothing left, we have destroyed our environment, and millions will die because of it.
    We know of the genetically modified seeds, of some of the radioactive accidents and the ongoing disasters at Fukushima and Washington State. We are nearly out of clean water…..our oceans are dying, and we get 80% of our oxygen from living oceans. We have put waste where we live, and now we will die from it.
    We are doomed, and too many people are in denial to come together to do anything about it. Everyone is out for himself, the “me” generation has wiped us out.
    All that is left is the dying. Intelligent people are preparing for it, the fools will let it happen to them.
    When a civilization collapses, there is nobody left to give you a six figure job or guarantee you a livelihood……it is upon the people…..and most have forgotten how. Even the survivalists…..the folks I like, are not prepared for the radioactive disaster we all face. I spent years living among them, but not one knows what to do about what faces us….it is too big, and the denial is still too strong.
    I have often wondered why great civilizations seemingly disappeared almost overnight. Now, it is happening to us, and I am amazed at how few people realize what is happening to us and to our world. They don’t want to face it. Perhaps it was denial that destroyed civilizations of old….I don’t know.
    I just know that the days we knew when big companies provided us with wonderful jobs are long gone, and the organisms that built those corporations have long since died, and all that is left is the empty shell, the organization. Without an inner spirit, they too, will die.

  4. Marilyn, brilliant summary.
    Still can’t get a handle on what is happening.
    Media silence, everybody here still commuting as normal, supermarket shelves still full, but prices rocketing, no more homeless on the streets than usual, no coverage of Ukraine, Fukushima, in your face Chemtrails, MH370,.
    Everything normal. Like that lull before the storm.
    As you say, those who know are getting quietly ready. But must not let on. Just be there.
    Your man reflects what is happening worldwide. I’m the same. The options are either garden maintenance, property repairs or Wal-mart greeter. Totally wasted talent & experience. Frustrating and demeaning.
    I think your point about denial very profound. Yet, seeing as nobody survived, it seems academic.
    Having spent a lot of time in the States, I note our two cultures differ. The main difference, apart from decadent wastefulness, is the preparation for saving either your 401K or just putting things to one side in the event of any problem.
    High levels of debt (credit cards etc) are not normally encouraged here, despite US owned cards offering totally unrealistic limits even on initiation.
    For instance, Bank of America offer me £15,000 limit on my card whereas all the UK ones max at about £5000.
    But now the proliferation of American jew owned WONGA.com type payday loan companies is most worrying, but again, mainly for the dumbed down.
    That culture is so destructive in a consumer based society.
    Nevertheless, I live in hope that people will learn to avoid it, despite its slick steam roller marketing. The inevitability that the heavily marketed unnecessary products of this market led fashion conscious society will become superfluous to the basic needs, as you say, a roof, clothing and food, might just be the tipping point for logical realisation.
    We shall see, won’t we, when the war starts or that fails and they have to admit they’ve screwed us.
    But will anybody listen, or take notice? Of course not, they’re all in their little igloos.

  5. To Squodgy: I think we have reached the point of no return. So, for the fool banks that offer loans that cannot be repaid, it probably won’t matter much……..it is all going to crumble in the dust. A consumer based economy also has to be a career based one, and that part of the puzzle has been destroyed. No longer can one go to engineer school and be assured of a good job buying one a decent home and supporting a family…..the system that supported such a sane world has been swallowed up by the greedy guts. You and I have seen the change. The average college graduate today is lucky to make $14.00 an hour…..when I graduated, my first job earned me a couple of thousand the first month……….but all the structure that supported a growing economy has been offshored.
    When I went to college, I had some money of my own, and was able to get a degree without debt. Back then, the debt would have been small and easy to pay off, corporations had not yet taken over the schools.
    Without growth, there can be no expansion. There is nothing left. Our food and water is destroyed, so is our water. What do the fools in power do? They frack for the greedy corporations that own everything, regardless it is proven to destroy drinking water. We have become a species that literally eats our own.
    Stay safe and prepare. This is falling apart much faster than most people realize. It is good to hear from you.

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