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One of the participants brought up two good points:
- Low prices benefit consumers, especially lower income people
- Major shifts in the retail industry have been going on for years
Here are several articles about the detrimental effects of Walmart, Amazon and retail industry concentration:
- Wal-Mart Means Fewer Jobs, Less Small Businesses, More Burden on Taxpayers
- These superstars can offer more variety, cheaper prices and convenience, but the bigger chunk of profits that they capture is split among fewer workers.
- Report: How Amazon’s Tightening Grip on the Economy Is Stifling Competition, Eroding Jobs, and Threatening Communities
- Amazon and Walmart are in an all-out price war that is terrifying America’s biggest brands
Obviously big-box stores and Amazon are not going away anytime soon and will continue to take a larger and larger share of the retail market. More and more mom-and-pop stores will close. Retail chains will shutter locations or go out of business. Once-vibrant Main Streets and suburban shopping malls will become ghost towns.
Ever the pragmatist, I believe the best solution for regular people like us, at least for now, is to strike a reasonable balance between (a) shopping at big-box and online and (b) supporting local small businesses in our community whenever possible - including friends and family in Direct Sales. Obviously the playing field is heavily tilted toward the big guys and it takes extra effort to Shop Local and Shop Small...but it can be done.
I worry, though, that the trend toward big-box and online will be overwhelmingly detrimental to locally-owned businesses and those of us in Direct Sales. I'm concerned that we will be left behind or become increasingly viewed as obsolete -- especially if we don't stop the insane focus on recruiting.
Perhaps the idea of person-to-person business (democratized commerce) is a quaint idea from the past, no longer relevant in a world increasingly dominated by innovative and constantly-evolving technology?
Yes, we offer unique value to a certain type of customer, but is it enough? Are there enough of those customers to go around? Is it truly sustainable and scalable? Can we compete against technology, one-stop-shopping convenience and those low, low prices? Are we fighting a losing battle over the long run?
What do you think?