Summary of What in the World Is Causing the Retail Meltdown of 2017?

The Atlantic,

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What in the World Is Causing the Retail Meltdown of 2017? summary
E-commerce, too many shopping malls and Americans’ changing spending priorities are hitting the retail industry hard.


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America’s retail industry is hurting. Yet people tend to point fingers too quickly at Amazon and other e-commerce businesses when hearing about yet another department store bankruptcy or retail store closure in the United States. As economics writer Derek Thompson explains in The Atlantic, “buy now” buttons and shopping apps certainly keep many people out of stores – but so do changing lifestyle priorities among Americans. getAbstract recommends Thompson’s illuminating piece on the demise of American retail stores to industry professionals and commercial real estate developers mulling over what the future of retail may hold. 

In this summary, you will learn

  • Why the US retail industry has not recovered since the end of the Great Recession,
  • Why the rise of e-commerce isn’t the only reason why shoppers stay away from malls, and
  • How autonomous vehicles may threaten the viability of shopping malls in the coming decades.


In the first three months of 2017 alone, nine US retailers have declared bankruptcy, while well-established department stores like Sears and Macy’s are closing more than 100 outlets each. This is happening at a time of economic growth, low unemployment and rising wages among middle- and lower-income Americans. Three recent developments are contributing to the demise of American retail stores:

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About the Author

Derek Thompson is a senior editor at The Atlantic, where he writes about economics, labor markets and the media. He is the author of the book Hit Makers.

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