Death of the Category Killers

Date: 23 Jun 2009 | posted in: Retail | 2 Facebooktwitterredditmail

Borders Books is on "death watch," according to one industry observer. Virgin shut down its last U.S. record store this month. Office Depot and Staples are struggling.  Circuit City is gone.  Best Buy has launched a desperate ad campaign.

While the decline of independent businesses has leveled off, the rest of the retail sector is undergoing dramatic consolidation as a small number of massive companies become ever more dominant. This is an ominous trend for manufacturers and consumers, and it exposes serious flaws in U.S. antitrust policy.  … Read More

Soaring Credit Card Transaction Fees Squeeze Independent Businesses

Date: 5 May 2009 | posted in: Banking, Retail | 8 Facebooktwitterredditmail

Independent businesses are largely at the mercy of Visa and MasterCard when it comes to the fees they must pay every time they swipe a credit card.  These fees, which are ultimately passed on to consumers in the form of higher prices, have soared from $27 billion in 2004 to $48 billion last year (or $427 per household). Recognizing the tremendous market power held by card processors, many countries now regulate credit card transaction fees, setting them at rates as low as one-sixth of what U.S. businesses pay.  … Read More

The Big Difference in Obama’s and McCain’s Plans for Our Energy Future

A few weeks ago I was at Iowa State University addressing 500 students and faculty at its engineering school. I was sharing a platform with former CIA Director Jim Woolsey. At one point, a student asked our views on the presidential candidates’ energy programs.

Iresponded that the essential difference between Obama and McCain is not in their goals as much as it is in the tools they would use to reach those goals. Obama believes in the active use of government authority; John McCain does not. McCain’s self-declared heroes, Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan, galvanized and led a movement whose principal thesis is that government is part of the problem, not part of the solution.

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Big Retailers Seek Exclusive Deals on Books and Albums

Date: 8 Oct 2008 | posted in: Retail | 0 Facebooktwitterredditmail

When a small publisher recently agreed to let Amazon.com be the exclusive seller of a new book about Barack Obama, the deal sparked a flurry of protest from independent booksellers and provided new evidence that the e-commerce giant intends to leverage its power as a retailer to gain more control over the production and distribution of books.… Read More

To Beat Retail Monopolies, We Need to Shed Our Consumer Identity

Date: 7 Dec 2006 | posted in: Retail | 0 Facebooktwitterredditmail

A growing number of communities are fighting back against the rising power of large retail stores like Wal-Mart. But real change won’t come until we stop thinking of ourselves as consumers and start thinking of ourselves as engaged citizens.… Read More

What to Do About Wal-Mart

Date: 5 Dec 2005 | posted in: Retail | 0 Facebooktwitterredditmail

As the company’s misdeeds pile up in the public consciousness, it can be tempting to define the problem of Wal-Mart as one of a bad apple—a rogue company gone awry in an otherwise sound economic system.

Wal-Mart has indeed attained a scale that puts it in a category all its own, and there’s no question that it is leading a race to the bottom. But others are running that race too. Target’s wages are as poor and its health benefits as out of reach. Home Depot and Lowe’s have crushed thousands of independent hardware stores. Best Buy has its main sourcing office Shanghai, where it relies on the same dismal factories.

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