Feb. 18th, 2009

emgeetrek: (Default)
The night before last, I slid two slices of bread into my venerable toaster oven (hand-me-down from a relative, and probably 20 years old). It's a good thing I didn't leave the kitchen while the toast was browning, as I often do, because a short time later I heard a loud hum from the toaster, followed by a popping sound and sparks from the switch area, followed by a cloud of electrical smoke. I flipped the switch to off (probably not a sensible thing to do; could have electrocuted myself), unplugged the toaster, and waited for it to cool before tipping the whole thing into the trash.

Last night, on my way home from teaching, I stopped at the local spawn of the devil, aka Wal-Mart, to pick up a replacement. Cards on the shelves indicated a choice of 7 toaster ovens; only 3 of the 7 were available, none a model I wished to purchase. In fact, the shelves looked pretty empty overall, compared to the usual situation of merchandise spilling over the edges. As I left the small appliance aisle, toaster-ovenless, and proceeded to the food aisles to pick up bread and milk, I noticed that the grocery shelves were similarly understocked.

I proceeded to checkout. Three stations were open. There was almost no wait. I've never been in such a quiet Wal-Mart. Yes, it was 5:30 PM, the time when most folks are on their way home to prepare dinner, but still . . .

The only conclusion I could draw is that this economy is hurting the discount stores as much as, or maybe even more than, the more upscale stores, and they're trimming inventories (the retail equivalent of hunkering down) because people just aren't buying anything but the bare necessities. Which will lead to factories cutting their production, and probably some factories going out of business. In any event, the supply pipeline to the U.S. is going to be drying up pretty soon.  Retailers have been cutting back on orders for months, and we're starting to see the signs of it on our store shelves.

My prediction is that, as things start turning around and we all decide it's okay to go shopping again, there won't be anything on the shelves that we want to buy.

The retail apocalypse, it is upon us.

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emgeetrek

January 2010

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