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Payless is closing all its U.S. stores (cnn.com)
107 points by malshe 34 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 86 comments

Unsurprising. Not because of the state of retail, but because they were purchased in 2012 by an investment firm (Blum Capital) and a private equity group (Golden Gate) that's known for leveraged buyouts. They closed their Australian stores in 2016, and now they're doing the same to the rest of their stores. They've slowly been dividing the assets up and carving/dividing the corpse up to squeeze blood from the stone.

I'll leave it up to someone smarter than I am to tell exactly how much of this was corporate raiding and how much was actually unsustainable business.

Yup, blaming this on “the age of Amazon” is a mistake. Same with toys r us and Sears: crushing debt from private equity with no retail competence.

Yes, although private equity generally gets involved in the first place because the company is already on the ropes. Resuscitating a failing retail chain in this day and age has a pretty high degree of difficulty. (Although it can be done; I'd probably argue Best Buy is an example.)

private equity will also often get involved when a firm is under-leveraged or otherwise seen to be leaving money on the table by current operations. sometimes that simply means the PE firm has access to cheap debt that the (former) owners do not.

resuscitating a retail chain often involves bundling multiple companies and cutting duplication (yum brands, for example).

Best Buy is/was failing? I thought they've always used creative methods to stay competitive and profitable, from what I've read/heard?...

It's a worldwide phenomenon. Bain Capital brought a huge, thriving retail business (Edcon) to its knees in South Africa, after a botched leveraged buy-out:


It may be worldwide, but it’s the same handful of players behind it all. I thought there were some bills in the works to outlaw leveraged buyouts in the USA?

Bain Capital is the firm associated with newly elected Republican Senator Mitt Romney of Utah. I'd expect those bills will now be derailed.

Don't these private equity firms earn piles of money in the process in exchange for wiping out creditors and investors? (not to mention staff)

No. Creditors, after the IRS, are first in line for assets in bankruptcy law.

That doesn't mean in many cases the PE firms aren't getting paid though. They usually charge "consulting fees" to the companies they buy sometimes in the hundreds of millions of dollars. They get that money long before any bankruptcy proceedings start.

So let me get this straight: You think banks willingly loan PE firms billions of dollars so they can pocket consulting fees and put the company into bankruptcy?

That's completely wrong. The money put up by PE firms is more at risk than any loan received by a bank. Bain Capital, for instance, lost money on the Toys R Us buyout. The bank would not agree to loan money for a buyout without an explicit covenant that would prevent such shenanigans. The generated cash flow is used to pay down debt; the PE firm usually only makes a profit when it exits its investment.

Banks agree to loan to PE firms because buyouts usually work and PE firms are right when they believe they can increase margins. The extra debt load reduces the tax burden and makes the debt easier to pay off.

The fact that you don't know about the consulting fees that PE firms charge makes me think you are just spitballing here.

The PE firms put up around $1.3B for Toys R Us with a $6.6B total leveraged buyout. The received around $200mm in consulting and other fees during their tenure. They also received interest payments for their portion of the capital. And there were several other deals and consolidations that are estimated to have netted the P/E firms several hundred million more. But these deals are far to complex to get exact numbers. It's likely that the PE firms lost big on deals like toys-r-us, but they definitely skim off the top all along the way thus making their final losses less. https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2018/07/toys-r-...

The way I understood it is they have their acquisitions raise a lot of money through debt, pay themselves enormous fees out of that debt, and then do hail-mary plays to try to recover the company (which never, probably by intent, work) and then have the company go bankrupt. Pocketing the fees, etc which are in excess of anything they ever put in.

First in line for assets which exist at the time of bankruptcy. That can be years after the looting has begun — for example, with Sears they poured huge amounts of money into stock buybacks and transferred the real estate holdings to a separate company which rented them back:


None of that can be easily undone by a bankruptcy court.

Which is why PE firms sell off the assets before the bankruptcy.

The market for Toys-R-Us is absolutely still there, and currently there is a vacuum for a better company to step in place. People are simply not going to buy their children's items online; moms just love to try things out in the store for their kids.

We've driven many times by the now closed Toys-R-Us store and lamented how we can't go and pick out toys there anymore.

Stores like Target have a toys section and it helps to some extent but the selection is just not there.

Also another thing Amazon can't do is last minute gift shopping for the numerous birthday parties kids seem to be invited to.

Parent life pro tip. Purchase an assortment of toys on clearance and keep them around for emergency party invites.

And you can also buy gift wrap and greeting cards at dollar stores. There is not much difference except for the limited selection.

Gift wrap is something I've learned over time not to cheap out on. Wrapping a present with cheap paper is frustrating. It rips far too easily. The task with quality paper is night and day. Worth a few more bucks per roll if you ask me.

Excellent idea. Thanks!

My local Best Buy has expanded their "toys" section by probably 10x what they had when I worked there 2005-2009. Lots of non-tech-related stuff like Melissa & Doug, too.

Completely anecdotal but I think the market is bifurcating into one group that buys more video games than physical toys but buys them at existing box stores, and groups that buy almost no toys whatsoever.

Wal-Mart and Target seem to be the go-to destination for toys for most of the people I work with who aren't making 100k+.

For those over 100k+ in income they buy a lot more wood toys from scandinavia and educational toys instead of purely play toys like we had in the 70s-80s. For us, with our three kids we basically bought no toys whatsoever that weren't educational toys.

Wow. As a kid, I always went to Payless for my "dress" shoes up until _maybe_ high school. Going to private Catholic school I always needed new "dress" shoes each year and it was a bit ritualistic for me to go to Payless before the new school year to get a new pair. I believe I also got a lot of my casual sneakers there when I was younger as well.

Clothing is surprisingly easy once you've settled your sizes for that brand. Add free return shipping and it's almost more logical to order online since you save the time of going to the store and physically finding the item (which may not even be in stock in your size).

I also like that it is much easier to use coupons online than in person, not to mention the extra percent or so off from using affiliate links.

Exact same situation here!

I have a hard time understanding the future macro-economy of the U.S. Where does the money come from and where does it go? We've all seen towns and cities decimated when the factories close or shrink because the thing that's buying raw materials, adding value, and selling it for a profit to generate revenue which is used to pay its workers, taxes, etc. is no longer there. A whole generation or two then moved to becoming simply middle-men, where goods were made somewhere else, marked up to pay rent and employees, and then sold. Now that model is going away as markets become more efficient and Walmart, Dollar General and Amazon (my employer for transparency, though I don't work for the store side) cut out the middle man. Where do 245 million American adults go next to make a living? When robots are driving all the trucks, picking all the fruit, and making most of the goods (all will come to pass within the next 50-100 years), and stores become more about shipping than shopping, where do people work?

Well that’s the argument for Universal Basic Income in a nutshell.


I am not entirely certain that all of Saudi Arabia's problems can be attributed to UBI.

Didn't say that.

Just that the currently most likely scenario is the Feudalism in Saudi Arabia.

Millions of dependents of varying capability (some 0) depending on a central authority.

> where do people work

Work isn't the end goal is it?

The point is, people want produce and services. They use these to survive and to entertain.

Normally, it was the case you couldn't by yourself produce and serve all the things and needs that you had for survival and entertainment.

So up till now, everyone had to work and divide the tasks.

Now, we can produce and serve without everyone needing to work.

The end goal is still, how can we produce and serve for everyone. That will be a political and social challenge. But when you think about it on a technical level, we've never been this close to reaching this goal. Where as before, this wasn't even technically possible.

The question is, will social progress catch up with and follow technical progress?

> Work isn't the end goal is it? The point is, people want produce and services. They use these to survive and to entertain.

False. People also want--need--to have a purpose in life and to contribute to society in some way.

Raising children, making art, creating a band. All of these give people that sense of purpose, but are not really captured by the GP post's notion of "work".

Artists and musicians can at least make marginal amounts of money, and if you're speculating about a fully automated future where robots do all of the real work, those marginal amounts of money could end up being enough to live on after all.

That's cultural or individual. I felt a little bit guilty during my two years off since other people were supporting me in hard conditions like drilling oil on the North Slope, but I could have continued surfing the web and kayaking indefinitely.

Absolutely, and being an oil driller, an iPhone manufacturer assembler, a McDonald cashier, a dishwasher, a house cleaner, etc. all seem like terrible ways to fulfill that need for purpose if you ask me.

If you look at the Maslow pyramid of need, the first two are why most people work currently. Those are physiological and safety.

To even begin to get the others is a luxury, which not everyone can afford today. You first need a surplus of produce and services that are required to your physiological and safety needs, before you can start to focus on the others.

Here's the pyramid for reference: https://www.simplypsychology.org/maslow-hierachy-of-needs-mi...

You can see the last three are love and belonging. Which requires free time to fulfill, time off work, which you can spend with friends, familly, at social events, etc. Esteem, which is what you're talking about, and requires that you are doing something with prestige and recognition, that feels challenging to you and accomplishing when done. Generally, for this, you will need money and time again. Such as being able to afford education, classes, lessons, equipment, etc. Finally, self-actualization requires the most luxury, but also discipline, to perfect your endeavours in a creative and innovative way.

Now, it's also important to keep in mind, this pyramid has no scientific basis. And a lot of psychologists critique it by pointing out that often times, what you need is defined by how you were raised and what society's culture dictates.

Wikipedia says:

> The needs and drives of those in individualistic societies tend to be more self-centered than those in collectivist societies, focusing on improvement of the self, with self-actualization being the apex of self-improvement. In collectivist societies, the needs of acceptance and community will outweigh the needs for freedom and individuality.

Also, Maslow only studied a limited number of people, which could all be considered high achiever. It's not clear that everyone truly cares to accomplish as much, and needs to fill any sort of contribution to society.

> Maslow studied what he called the master race of people such as Albert Einstein, Jane Addams, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Frederick Douglass rather than mentally ill or neurotic people, writing that "the study of crippled, stunted, immature, and unhealthy specimens can yield only a cripple psychology and a cripple philosophy."[5]:236 Maslow studied the healthiest 1% of the college student population.

> Absolutely, and being an oil driller, an iPhone manufacturer assembler, a McDonald cashier, a dishwasher, a house cleaner, etc. all seem like terrible ways to fulfill that need for purpose if you ask me.

This is straight-up classism. Working class people can and do take pride and satisfaction in working for a living instead of living on the dole, and there’s nothing unnatural or wrong about that.

> Working class people can and do take pride and satisfaction in working for a living instead of living on the dole

Right on, and if you have too, you should.

But these things aren't equal. And now you're just moving the goal post.

First, "living on the dole" has a bad connotation. You are already setting social norms as you say it. Implying that it would be shameful to do so. This plays into the idea that people's needs for esteem is driven by societal norms. And this is one part of the social progress that might need to happen.

Second, as it stands, those two options don't afford you the same produce and sercices. Working still raises your standard of living higher but what if it didn't, and in fact, paid less? That is the hypothetical I am talking about.

Third, you've moved the goal post. Because this isn't about the choice between not working and working a bad job. I'm talking about the choice between not working, or working towards a good job. And which one would feel more rewarding?

Now personally, if "living on the dole" as you say was providing me with all the safety and physiological produce and sercices I need, I'd probably choose it over working. And all my "work" would be philanthropic use of my time on things I find rewarding to work on.

Lastly, who knows? I don't. And I'm just saying, these kind of thoughts and conversations is what we need to have more of. But the reality is that, it doesn't make sense to have people do things that aren't needed. So as we need less and less from others, we're still gonna need to find something so everyone has a fulfilling happy and long life. I mean, hopefully.

> First, "living on the dole" has a bad connotation. You are already setting social norms as you say it. Implying that it would be shameful to do so. This plays into the idea that people's needs for esteem is driven by societal norms.

It's not an arbitrary "social norm", it's a human near-universal, at least to some degree, to stigmatize freeloading and value at least some sort of productive activity. After 30 seconds of reflection you can probably figure out why, and after a further 30 seconds of reflection you can also figure out how these attitudes are already engrained at a deeply emotional level for many.

> Second, as it stands, those two options don't afford you the same produce and sercices. Working still raises your standard of living higher but what if it didn't, and in fact, paid less? That is the hypothetical I am talking about.

It's not really a hypothetical--lots of people are in either a welfare trap or a disability trap where they are capable of working and would actually like to work, but doing so would jeopardize their eligibility for benefits, and they can subsist off the benefits more reliably than they could subsist off of their work. These people are almost universally incredibly unhappy with the situation.

Furthermore, if you look at other situations--retirement, winning the lottery--where there is no economic need to keep working in order to earn an income, there are still high levels of depression, suicide, and drug abuse that soon follow. This is one of the reasons that people at the top of social hierarchies--executives, politicians, judges--very, very rarely retire once they reach a "normal" retirement age. If you're powerful enough, you can reduce the scope of your actual job to the point that you can still do it. At that point, the main barrier is retaining the capacity to work.

> Third, you've moved the goal post. Because this isn't about the choice between not working and working a bad job. I'm talking about the choice between not working, or working towards a good job. And which one would feel more rewarding?

Let's look at the jobs you pointed out as "bad jobs":

> an oil driller, an iPhone manufacturer assembler, a McDonald cashier, a dishwasher, a house cleaner, etc.

First off, your choice of "bad jobs" alone comes from a place of arrogant upper-middle-class ignorance, because those jobs don't really have much to do with each other.

Oil rig workers have good pay--averaging around six figures, actually--and long career paths with lots of opportunities for advancement (https://money.cnn.com/2012/05/10/news/economy/oil_workers/in...) (https://www.jobsite.co.uk/worklife/work-oil-rig-18734/). Oil rig work is an entire sector of the economy you obviously know nothing about if you're comparing it with washing dishes in a restaurant or cashiering at McDonalds. Just like factory work, farm work, and construction work--nobody thinks its fun, but the people who do that work take pride in it, and are right to do so.

> But the reality is that, it doesn't make sense to have people do things that aren't needed.

There is also no shortage of things that are needed.

Are jobs disappearing or just geographically concentrating? It's obvious that some jobs are, if anything, even more lucrative than before, leading to wider disparities in productivity and, consequently, income. And when that happens, historically, you start to see things that we haven't seen yet, like large numbers of live-in domestic servants. Maybe the current "service economy" or even "gig economy" is basically the same thing at heart. But when that happens, jobs don't disappear; they geographically concentrate. And because America doesn't do density and urbanization very well, this causes more disruption than it otherwise would.

> Where do 245 million American adults go next to make a living?

For any arbitrary company, its not their problem. They're there to make shareholders an extra buck for the quarter. Or at most, they hold a 5 year look at the far end. Further? 10 year? 20 year? Nope. Not at all.

For the individual, of course we care. But there's not much to be done about it. Id say voting works, but with regulatory capture and money in politics/legalized bribery where it is, I'm not seeing much difference.

Maybe we should just cash in on the momentary money while we have a chance.

A common sentiment but one rooted in a basic misconception about there being a maximum amount of work available to do. There's no such thing. The amount of undone work at any given time is effectively infinite. There are always jobs being left undone, always. Many of them.

That's especially obvious today when we have huge debts in terms of infrastructure building and city development. Or just general stewardship. There are so many waste disposal problems in the developed world that are currently in a holding pattern. For non-nuclear waste there are very clear routes toward remediation and disposal, for example. And yet all these projects languish on the back burner because we just can't afford them. Consider just one example, Seattle is currently in the process of installing sidewalks throughout the entire city, at present rates of progress it will take 1800 years to finish. Think about that for a moment and then consider that a lot of basic infrastructure and urban development projects in other cities are in similar shape.

And this doesn't even include new jobs that don't exist currently. In 1850 there were no movie stars, no TV advertising studios, no e-sports players, no vloggers, and there were vastly fewer and less well paid professional actors, musicians, and writers. Also, people in 1850 didn't have toilets, showers, dishwashers, refrigerators, televisions, instant pots, smartphones, or insulin. The amount of labor needed to supply the standard of living of 1850 in 2019 is vastly less than the labor that was used to supply it in 1850. The same trend will continue in the future. By 2050 the labor needed to supply a 2019 standard of living will be less than what was used in 2019. There will be jobs that don't exist today in 2050, and 2040, and 2030, and even 2020, that's how the economy works. That's been true throughout the entire holocene.

The problem is not fundamentally about the size of the well of labor to be done, that well is bottomless. The problem is rather one of economics and monetary systems. And this is not a new problem either. When wealth is hyper concentrated it actually reduces economic activity (which, remember, has nothing to do with money and everything to do with goods and services) because it shunts a huge percentage of the population out of active participation in the economy.

Imagine an alternate world with different money systems in circulation, for simplicity let's just imagine two sets: rich and poor people money. Imagine that it is illegal to trade one for the other (meaning you cannot use rich people money to buy up poor people money), imagine that you take all of the money as it exists today in the developed world and you label it "rich people money". Then, you introduce a new set of currency, the only thing special about it is that people in the top 1/4 by income (of rich people money) are legally prohibited from owning it or using it. Now you have this entire sub-economy of the bottom 3/4 who are isolated from the rest. Will people do jobs, provide services and make goods only for "poor people money"? Of course they will, because ultimately the money is just a medium for exchanging labor and value. People whose labor isn't valued in the rich people money economy will likely still be able to sell their work in the poor people money economy. And, as I said, there is an effectively infinite pool of work to be done so there will be jobs for people to do. Everyone in the developed world today has needs that aren't being met currently, all an economy is is a way for people to meet each others needs through labor via a medium of exchange.

Now, you can get to a state of having just one set of money and one whole economy where everyone is fully participatory but you need to bring up the wages and decrease the inequality in the system. If the wage floor in the US were closer to the $20/hr norm from the mid 20th century instead of the $7/hr it is today then there'd be a lot more money in the hands of those in the bottom 3/4 of the economy. And those people would be able to build their wealth, employ others, spend more money on more goods and services, etc. and result in a more fully participatory economy. We've spent the last nearly half century practically wrecking our own economic system, raiding it for the benefit of the hyper-elite. This is not a natural nor necessary development, it has been a choice. And we can just as easily choose other things to do.

You're forgetting that things are getting automated. More and more work is done by robots and software. Faster, cheaper, better than human labor.

I'm not sure how you missed the degree to which the automation of labor was implicit in my post, it's the foundation of it, in fact. Automation of labor isn't new, as I pointed out, it's not sudden, it's not unusual, it is the norm and always has been.

Have you read the article on disability being the new welfare for blue collar workers in middle america? I suspect that's already filling the gap. http://apps.npr.org/unfit-for-work/

Ez ... goes from the poor to the rich until the economy busts open

We need to create laws about ethical data management so companies like Google and Facebook will be forced to hire more people. The algorithms don't work; hate speech, Russian trolls, anti-vax, etc, are all screwing up things too much.

Its amazing to me how many shops I walk past are completely empty these days. I don't know how they can afford to keep the lights on, let alone stock the place.

I myself swore I'd never buy clothes and shoes online, but have started doing this too. Its so much easier and cheaper.

All of this will have repercussions to the commercial real estate space. Who's going pay for the mortgage if there is hardly any tenant? Who's going to buy any more commercial space from the banks that forecloses them?

Commercial real estate is already feeling the effects and trying to figure out how to react. My main street is turning what was formerly used as retail space into microbrew beer venues and experiences like escape rooms and craft shops where people do things together. I'm not convinced it is a bad thing that we no longer waste so much space on retail.

You also described the main street where I am. I think it's a really good thing. Reclaim those spaces for things that cannot be done online.

That’s really interesting. You described exactly the street where my office is.

Suburban/rural-ish malls are a particular problem because they're based around the idea of anchor tenants (like Sears) who draw people into malls with lots of smaller shops that people mostly go to because they're already in the mall for the anchor store.

I have a friend who follows retail for a financial firm. She's of the opinion that the bloodletting in retail is just getting started.

>All of this will have repercussions to the commercial real estate space. Who's going pay for the mortgage if there is hardly any tenant?

Converting them to residential could be one solution. With climate change intensifying weather events, an arcology where you can live, have a few shops, and a food court without ever going outside could be quite useful.

The malls going under aren't in the places where real estate is super-scarce. High-end urban malls are actually doing quite well. To a first approximation, no one in a suburb/exurb/small city wants to live (or can afford to) live in some corporate arcology.

"I myself swore I'd never buy clothes and shoes online, but have started doing this too. Its so much easier and cheaper."

The main reason I don't buy shoes online is because it's so difficult to find a good fit.

In a store I can easily and quickly try on a whole bunch of shoes, and if none of them fit or I don't like them, all I do is just walk out of the store.

With online shoe purchases, I have to not only wait for delivery but then if they don't fit I have to send them back. Also, I've heard of Amazon closing people's accounts when they made too many returns, so even though Amazon has a great return policy, I am wary of trying on and returning too many shoes. I'd just rather shop in a brick and mortar store when none of this is an issue.

As for Payless, I love them. I could find much cheaper shoes there than anywhere else in my area, and I had no complaints about the quality of the shoes I bought. Their closure means I'll have to pay more for shoes, which is something I can ill afford to do.

Not to shill, but with Amazon Wardrobe, they explicitly expect you to send some of the products back. The other differences are that you are not billed until you decide what to keep and (to me, the biggest innovation), they use a box that is perforated with peel-and-stick strips for you to use to mail back and also include a pre-printed return label.

That last one is huge for me because the local UPS store got wise to Amazon returns and now charges $1.50 for the first printout, but only if you email them, which neatly captures everyone who needs to print a return label, but doesn't have a printer of their own.

I recently lost a lot of weight and so I wasn't sure what size I was for a lot of items. So I just ordered a couple different sizes and sent back the ones that didn't fit. Such a better experience than trying to find multiple sizes of the same thing in a store, then going to the dressing room where everything is counted because I'm assumed to be a criminal.

Biggest down side is that they use their very lowest priority and slowest shipping for it. But for me, clothes are rarely urgent.

If you are buying mens clothing, the sizes are actually the relevant measurements in inches, so getting the right size is not that hard (you may only need to order two sizes).

But I completely agree with you about retail treating me like a criminal: nobody has counted things going into the dressing room yet, but it is getting more and more difficult to be allowed to leave the stores without purchase anymore.

A small (but not trivial) amount of people actually find buying shoes online much easier than in store, precisely because of issues finding a fit. My shoe size is 16; I'm lucky if a physical store has a single item that matches my size.

Sometimes I'll buy my first pair of a certain shoe at a brick and mortar store, and then buy the exact same size of the same exact model on Amazon for awhile.

There are several in-person alternatives. DSW is larger and cleaner than Payless, and also tends to have better brands. They also do a great job with coupons and sales. Kohl’s, the coupon/sale master, also sells shoes. And Nordstrom Rack has a good selection as well.

Then there are outlet malls—many brands to choose from.

Personally I have felt for a while that DSW was a much better option than Payless.

> I myself swore I'd never buy clothes and shoes online

Curious, what made you swear you would never do that?

not the person you responded to, but someone with a similar perspective. i have a fairly tricky-to-fit body shape and prefer to try things on in person, since many things in my size don't actually look right on me. same goes for shoes - i fluctuate between about three sizes depending on brand and shoe type, so it's a pain to figure out which one fits without testing them out.

online shopping has gotten a lot easier these days, though, since most retailers post exact measurements and many also offer free returns.

Yep. I'm so surprised there haven't more solutions to get even short term tenants in these places. Pop-up shops on the cheap until a longer term tenant signs.

Then I'm also surprised how many salons and banks however can keep filling in these empty stores.

Commercial property owners are always reticent to rent at lower prices. They also usually say that turn over is too expensive to let just anyone rent. I can't imagine it being more expensive than vacancy.

We have 3 shoe stores in my town of ~30k (not sure how they can continue), but it seems e-commerce is bringing more efficiency to the market and allowing cheaper pricing.

Edit: E-commerce is projected to increase to 15% of retail sales by 2021.

It never ceases to amaze me how early we are in the internet revolution. It often feels like e-commerce makes up 50% of retail sales. The transformations we've observed over the past decade are whispers.

Another one to add to the list -KB Toys, Sears, Kmart, Blockbuster, Montgomery Wards, Circuit City. Thanks for the memories.

Weird Stuff.

Most of our tired strip malls across the US should be demolished for housing.

Most of them aren't worth it. If a mall is failing, it probably exists in an area that is failing as well.

Malls with primarily upper middle class consumers and up are doing quite well.

"Someone" will doubtless do so if it makes economic sense to do so. In practice, even leaving aside zoning, there isn't a lot of residential demand for apartment buildings in the middle of a strip mall. They actually exist. I'm familiar with a few. But they're not some panacea for housing demand in the highest priced areas.

Just as a random tid-bit, I take walks after lunch through a shopping plaza.

There was a Payless store that opened around 2016 and stayed open for less than a year until being closed. Not sure what that was about. Guess it was never doing that well.

To clarify - Payless is putting more people out work than the entire coal mining industry in the US. But don’t worry the government is supporting the miners. And subsidizing their employers.

That seems unlikely.

Coal mining: ~50,000 jobs (per BLS, described here: https://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2017/jun...)

Payless globally: ~18,000 jobs (and international stores are not closing, per https://www.cnn.com/2019/02/15/business/payless-closing-stor...)

There are, give or take, 50k employed by the coal industry in the USA [0]. Payless employs only 18k worldwide [1].

0: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coal_mining_in_the_United_St... 1: https://www.cnn.com/2019/02/15/business/payless-closing-stor...

> Payless is putting more people out work than the entire coal mining industry in the US


Not the OP, but maybe these numbers?

18000 Payless employees in 2017 [1]

~50000 in mining industry [2], ~10000 in extraction [3] in 2017.

So it's probably not true that it's more than the entire coal mining industry. But, more than the number of actual coal miners? Possibly.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Payless_ShoeSource

[2] https://www.bls.gov/oes/2017/may/naics4_212100.htm

[3] https://www.bls.gov/oes/2017/may/naics4_212100.htm#47-0000

Most comments seem to quibble about exact numbers. That the number of people let go is comparable is enough to give you a pause.


They broke it first, so most articles are similar, but here: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/16/business/payless-shoes-st...

looks like many other articles were posted first, including this one: https://www.southcoasttoday.com/news/20190215/update-payless... ... pro hillary people just like CNN so much

I always forget that when the subject is not political that you can somewhat rely on them, but thanks anyways for the alternate source.

I thought they ALREADY closed. wow.

I think it's premature to lament the loss of 18k ultimately low quality jobs. The trend of retail giants going out of business means that commercial real estate gets cheaper.

For most people starting a business means opening a storefront.

It takes years for retail space to be renovated or converted. Meanwhile, people who are now out of a job will need to eat until then.

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