Retail Apocalypse


It’s really easy to get caught up in the hyperbole that is the “Retail Apocalypse.”

Sure, it makes for great headlines and even better sound bites, and it gives a lot of so-called experts the opportunity to spout their opinion on articles published all over the internet.   Yes, there are major chains that have failed. Is that retail failing in general, the economy, or bad business management? It could be a combination of all three, or it could be none of the above.

So, who is actually looking at the numbers, and drawing a conclusion based on data?   As Worldlink Integration Group thrives on data-based decision-making, we were recently moved by an American Enterprise Institute article by James Pethokoukis.

Pethokoukis had a fascinating Q&A with economist Michael Mandel, and he found that it might not be that easy to believe in a Retail Apocalypse.

Mandel told Pethokoukis flat out, “There is no sign of a Retail Apocalypse in the data at all.” The economist was quick to point out that while some chains have gone under in the last 12-18 months, even a department store like Sears has been fighting off extinction for a decade.   In fact, Mandel says that this isn’t a loss in faith in the in-store retail process; it’s a sign that the world is just adapting to newer conditions.

The conventional wisdom is that Amazon is the big bad wolf. According to Mandel, the truth is that Amazon supports sales from a lot of third-party vendors. “They are third-party sellers selling through Amazon’s system, which is not just the website, but in fact their fulfillment centers. And this is really important because these fulfillment centers are not warehouses,” Mandel told Pethokoukis.

Mandel says that this is all about distribution – the big guy helping the little guy.

Amazon appears to be painting that picture to the public as well.   It has been running television commercials where it illustrated how the power of Amazon is helping small business owners. They show the distribution of a product, from motorcycles and trucks to trains and boats.

The message from business owners: Amazon is helping small and mid-sized businesses just like mine.


You don’t have to be a mega-store to succeed.

One area that we see thriving is an area like mid-sized retail chains. For every big box retailer that might be facing struggles, there are chains like Hot Topic and Five Below that persevere.


They both offer a great shopping experience and feature a lot of fun and clever products. They also have focused on improving the customer experience. Hot Topic is in its 30th year in business, has hundreds of stores and more than $500 million in annual sales.   Five Below shares similar success, as CEO Joel Anderson stated recently, “Continued robust performance from new stores, with a record 53 openings during the quarter (Q4), and above-plan comp results were driven by a positive customer response to our compelling assortment of trend-right products across our worlds.”

It’s a trend we’d like to see continue.

Does your business need an integration of customer-friendly solutions?   Worldlink’s tech teams install systems that enhance the shopper experience.   If you’d like to learn more, schedule a conversation with VP of Sales, Brett Busconi by using the Calendly plus in on the right column of this page.