What’s killing local businesses?

Local businesses are being killed off.  Storefronts are empty.  More and more main street looks like desolation row. Malls have become decaying relics.

Each local business that closes its doors decreases local shoppers desire to shop on main street. People like EXCITEMENT.  They like CHOICE.  But most of all people like other PEOPLE.

See other people shopping is what makes local shopping attractive.  When shoppers walk past an empty store or restaurant the overall local BRAND is diminished.  How bad is it – it is being called The Retail Apocalypse 2019.   


Empty Shopping Mall 2

Retail Apocalypse
The destruction of local businesses and communities

Sinéad Baker in the April 2019 Business Insider article writes that the retail apocalypse has claimed 6,000 US stores in 2019 so far, more than the number that shut down in all of 2018.

Local Towns

In the article Baker summarizes what is happening to local retail:

  • More store closings have been announced already this year than in all of 2018, according to new research.
  • A report from Coresight Research found the retail apocalypse to be continuing, with 5,994 store closings announced in the US this year compared with 5,864 in all of 2018.
  • Some retailers including Fred’s and Family Dollar are closing select stores in a bid to stay profitable, while chains like Payless have announced they are shuttering all of their stores.
  • One report predicted that 75,000 stores would close across North America by 2026 as reliance on e-commerce rises.

If you don’t know what is happening to local retail then you, like Rip Van Winkle, have been sleeping.  The Tech Giants and Retail Chains are culprits in the Retail Apocalypse, but the actual killers are the denial and ignorance of local business owners.

There is a well-worn saying, “What you don’t know won’t hurt you.”  The writer,  Margaret Atwood, has her contrary version of the saying which is, “Sometimes what you don’t know can hurt you very much.”


I am of the school that thinks ignorance is NOT bliss and that “what you don’t know can and will hurt you.”  There is NO BLISS to be found in ignorance.  Think about what you know now and how if you knew what you know now ten, fifteen, or twenty years ago the mistakes you could have avoided.

So, what’s killing off local businesses is first, foremost, and last – the ignorance and denial of local business owners.  The excuses for ignorance are that business owners are too busy to see what is happening – that is total and complete nonsense.  Denial is something else entirely.  Here’s a denial quote pretty much sums it up, “People don’t know very much.  They only think they know to make themselves feel better.”


It is the JOB of business owners to get their heads out of the “too busy” sand.  Time to stand up and see reality.  Denial is your head in the sand.

Head in Sand

This is reality – local businesses are getting killed off.  There is not one local business owner who is not afraid.  The massacre is not going to stop.  The killing isn’t an accident.

IGNORANCE #1:  Amazon earns $282.7 billion dollars a year in revenue, it controls over 50% of online sales, shoppers love shopping online, and Amazon makes it easier and easier to shop.  Think – one-day delivery.  Amazon is going after EVERY local business.


Every local business from the pizza joint to the local jeweler NEEDS to understand IGNORANCE #1.  Deny it and you have a death wish.  A person with a death wish is shown the danger and chooses to deny it.

IGNORANCE #2:  Amazon’s success is built around its customer list.  Amazon doesn’t advertise – Bezos thinks advertising is a waste of money.  Instead, Amazon communicates.  Shoppers are connected 24/7 and they LIKE, WANT, and DEMAND communication.  They HATE advertising.  Deny IGNORANCE #2 and you go from having a death wish to business suicide.

Too tough.  Nasty, Politically incorrect.  Nope.  It is reality.  Local business owners, if they intend to survive need to understand that it is their IGNORANCE and DENIAL that will cause them to fail.


Nobody wants to fail.  To keep from letting Amazon and the Retail Giants drive you to destruction local business owners need to Get Smart, Face Reality, and turn their on their passion to win.  It all starts with LEARNING.

Learning starts when you look around and see something you want to do and say to yourself, “I don’t know how to do it.  I don’t know how to get there.  I know if I don’t do it and get there BAD THINGS are going to happen.”

I know the older I get the more I realize how little I really know.  The good part of knowing you don’t know is that it means you are open to LEARNING.  For example, one of my favorite articles about marketing I found is titled, Amazon is building the world’s largest bird feeder.

The article argues that Amazon’s list is like a gigantic birdfeeder which Amazon uses to attract millions of different kinds of shoppers.  I learned from the article and begin thinking about local businesses and what they don’t know.

Here’s what local businesses both don’t know and if they know are in denial about.

Perhaps, the most ominous story of 2019 is that Amazon is making one-day delivery to its 105 million customer list. 

Local businesses may have heard about Amazon’s one-day delivery but are still in denial.  Here’s the unvarnished truth – what Amazon does ALL the retail giants will do.  Target just announced its one-day delivery service.   Here’s the point – expect Walmart to do the same.  Ditto for all the retail chains.  This news should be as shocking to a local business as having your doctor say, “You have cancer, heart disease, and PTSD but other than everything is good.”

Local business owners need to make sure they are NOT in denial about one-day delivery.  It means that Amazon, Target, Walmart and the Retail Chains WILL take away more of their customers.  These giants are focused on what today’s shoppers WANT.

Mary Meeker, the smartest coach, in the industry shows you how to win.

Mary Meeker

One person who KNOWS what shoppers want is Mary Meeker.  Meeker is the leading expert on the internet and each year she publishes her Internet Trends report.  The past sixteen years Meeker has presented her findings to the industry.  She has been and continues to be uncannily accurate.  She predicted the rise of Google and Amazon, the growth of Chinese technology, mobile, video, and gaming.  She is a business intellectual legend.  Local business owners should pay attention to what Meeker is telling them.

A quick summary of Meeker’s 2019 shopper trends:

“Amazon stunned analysts and industry watchers in 2014 when managers paid $970 million cash to buy Twitch. The three-year-old streaming site had only 55 million users at the time and catered mostly to people who watched others play video games. The fit with e-commerce escaped most observers. Gaming is the natural evolution of sport for a generation raised with PlayStation and Xbox consoles. It’s also a purely digital experience ripe for transformative business models built in the cloud. Researchers found that 69% of players made in-game purchases, spending an average of $84.67 per year and generate billions in revenues.”

  • Everything will migrate to the cloud. Cloud infrastructure is dominated by Amazon Web Services, Microsoft’s Azure, and Google Cloud.

Meeker concluded that Amazon, Microsoft, and Google will control the cloud and therefore the future.

“Amazon, Alphabet and Microsoft trade at 48x, 20x and 26x forward earnings, respectively. While that may seem expensive, the best part of their business expansion is still ahead as enterprises move more workloads to the cloud.”

IGNORANCE #3:  Any local business owner who doesn’t take the time to understand what Mary Meeker is saying has given up.  I know it sounds harsh but the TRUTH is often harsh.  I want local businesses and local communities to THRIVE.  I want them to see reality, swallow hard, and fight back.

Here are Meeker’s Insights for Local Businesses:

Understand shoppers need for social responsibility.  You’ve all seen the powerful Shriner’s commercials asking for monthly donations, ASPCA the same, ditto for Wounded Warriors – people genuinely care about others.  Shoppers care about local.  Local starts with local businesses working together.  In fact, The most powerful local business strategy is working together.


It would be simple to say the Tech and Retail Giants are killing local businesses.  It just wouldn’t be true.  The local business owner’s ignorance and denial are the two driving factors behind the death of local businesses.  If and when, local business owners realize they have the power to control their own destinies they will discover a MASSIVE opportunity.


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