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.
resuscitating a retail chain often involves bundling multiple companies and cutting duplication (yum brands, for example).
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 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-...
None of that can be easily undone by a bankruptcy court.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
False. People also want--need--to have a purpose in life and to contribute to society in some way.
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.
> 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.":236 Maslow studied the healthiest 1% of the college student population.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I myself swore I'd never buy clothes and shoes online, but have started doing this too. Its so much easier and cheaper.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
Curious, what made you swear you would never do that?
online shopping has gotten a lot easier these days, though, since most retailers post exact measurements and many also offer free returns.
Then I'm also surprised how many salons and banks however can keep filling in these empty stores.
Edit: E-commerce is projected to increase to 15% of retail sales by 2021.
Malls with primarily upper middle class consumers and up are doing quite well.
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.
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...)
18000 Payless employees in 2017 
~50000 in mining industry , ~10000 in extraction  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.
For most people starting a business means opening a storefront.