about 12 million jobs in retail are facing increasing competition from Amazon, particularly the 6.2 million people who work in the kind of stores that are typically found at malls or shopping centers -- furniture, appliance and electronics, clothing, sporting goods, bookstores, and general merchandise stores -- what the statisticians call GAFO (General Merchandise, Apparel and Accessories, Furniture and Other Sales).


Although retailers have been laying off workers, they probably aren't laying off enough, considering how quickly their sales are eroding. While sales fell 0.6% in 2016, employment at the GAFO stores increased by 1.6%, or about 95,000. You don't make money by hiring more people to sell less.

So what's the big deal? Won't the people who once worked at Macy's just work at Amazon instead? Well, no. Amazon needs about half as many workers to sell $100 worth of merchandise as Macy's does. Macy's has floor walkers, and saleswomen at the makeup counter to give personal attention, and cashiers, if you can find one.


That's because Amazon is at the forefront of automating retail. More and more of the work in the warehouses will be done by robots, and Amazon contemplates deploying flying drones (robots) to deliver the packages to your door. Amazon's concept for selling groceries includes almost no workers, because customers will check themselves out and robots will restock the shelves.

What's most troubling to brick-and-mortar retailers and their workers is that Amazon's sales growth is accelerating (19% in 2014, 20% in 2015 and 28% in 2016), and shows no sign of plateauing. Amazon isn't just taking sales from brick-and-mortar stores; it's also taking market share from traditional retailers' online stores.

Amazon is a juggernaut because Americans are so broke (not many can afford the extravagance of spending in relatively-inefficient brick-and-mortar stores)... obviously this sets up a vicious cycle...

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