Big box stores: What’s the underlying problem?

From a recent RetailWire post about “the death of big box stores”: I feel the issue is exaggerated but the problems are real for some segments of the industry struggling with more nimble competition, pricing issues and lack of product innovation. Here’s my opinion:

I don’t agree with the premise that combination food/discount stores are doomed (both Target and Walmart are both committed to the food and consumables businesses), but the giant footprint under one roof may be another story. On the other hand, the “category killer” big box store (toys, electronics, office equipment) is definitely struggling with the effects of technology on its business.

Think about Best Buy, Staples and Toys R’ Us as examples: Both Amazon and the discounters provide plenty of price and assortment competition. More importantly, many of these stores are still devoting space to products (CD’s, DVD’s, printers and paper) that are quickly losing steam with consumers. It pays for stores like Best Buy to keep rolling out small-footprint stores focused on a single category like mobile.


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