Biz

6,000 Shuttered Stores: Retail Is Not Recovering

AMERICA’S SHRINKING MIDDLE CLASS HAS NOTHING LEFT TO SPEND …  || By FITSNEWS || On one end of the economic prognostication spectrum we have the “rainbows and unicorns” crowd – the giddy optimists who believe ongoing government “stimulation” will eventually pay off with robust economic growth. How’s that view working…

AMERICA’S SHRINKING MIDDLE CLASS HAS NOTHING LEFT TO SPEND … 

|| By FITSNEWS || On one end of the economic prognostication spectrum we have the “rainbows and unicorns” crowd – the giddy optimists who believe ongoing government “stimulation” will eventually pay off with robust economic growth.

How’s that view working out in 2015?  Not so well …

On the other end of the spectrum we have Michael Snyder of The Economic Collapse Blog … whose website (as its name suggests) has a far less rosier view of the economy.

Snyder’s latest post asserts that America’s shrinking, tapped out middle class – which has seen its disposable income all but evaporate in recent years – is creating a “retail apocalypse.”  One that’s accelerating.

Yeah … quite a different view than the one about “gas savings” stimulating a consumer renaissance, right?

“As you will see below, major U.S. retailers have announced that they are closing more than 6,000 locations, but economic conditions in this country are still fairly stable,” Snyder wrote.  “So if this is happening already, what are things going to look like once the next recession strikes?”

He’s even got a list of some of the major retailers permanently shuttering locations …

180 – Abercrombie & Fitch (by 2015)
75 – Aeropostale (through January 2015)
150 – American Eagle Outfitters (through 2017)
223 – Barnes & Noble (through 2023)
265 – Body Central / Body Shop
66 – Bottom Dollar Food
25 – Build-A-Bear (through 2015)
32 – C. Wonder
21 – Cache
120 – Chico’s (through 2017)
200 – Children’s Place (through 2017)
17 – Christopher & Banks
70 – Coach (fiscal 2015)
70 – Coco’s /Carrows
300 – Deb Shops
92 – Delia’s
340 – Dollar Tree/Family Dollar
39 – Einstein Bros. Bagels
50 – Express (through 2015)
31 – Frederick’s of Hollywood
50 – Fresh & Easy Grocey Stores
14 – Friendly’s
65 – Future Shop (Best Buy Canada)
54 – Golf Galaxy (by 2016)
50 – Guess (through 2015)
26 – Gymboree
40 – JCPenney
127 – Jones New York Outlet
10 – Just Baked
28 – Kate Spade Saturday & Jack Spade
14 – Macy’s
400 – Office Depot/Office Max (by 2016)
63 – Pep Boys (“in the coming years”)
100 – Pier One (by 2017)
20 – Pick ’n Save (by 2017)
1,784 – Radio Shack
13 – Ruby Tuesday
77 – Sears
10 – SpartanNash Grocery Stores
55 – Staples (2015)
133 – Target, Canada (bankruptcy)
31 – Tiger Direct
200 – Walgreens (by 2017)
10 – West Marine
338 – Wet Seal
80 – Wolverine World Wide (2015 – Stride Rite & Keds)

Yikes …

Now calculate all the vanished jobs associated with those thousands of storefront closings …

Obviously some of the widespread shuttering is the result of the ongoing transition from brick-and-mortar storefronts to online shopping … but as Snyder points out it’s also a product of American consumers having less discretionary income.

“For a long time, I have been pointing to 2015 as a major ‘turning point’ for the U.S. economy, and I still feel that way,” Snyder wrote.  “And since I started The Economic Collapse Blog at the end of 2009, I have never seen as many indications that we are headed into another major economic downturn as I do right now.  If retailers are closing this many stores already, what are our malls and shopping centers going to look like a few years from now?”

That’s a good question … and a frightening one.

“For decades, the U.S. economy was powered by a free spending middle class that had plenty of discretionary income to throw around,” he concluded.  “But now that the middle class is being systematically destroyed, that paradigm is changing.  Americans families simply do not have the same resources that they once did, and that spells big trouble for retailers.”

Indeed … and no amount of “rainbows and unicorns” is going to fix that.

What will?  Stopping the unchecked growth of government – be it entitlement perpetuationwealth redistributioncrony capitalism, welfare statism or global interventionism – and pumping that cash where it belongs: The free market.

***

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71 comments

GrandTango May 3, 2015 at 8:48 pm

Kill coal, refuse Keystone and opening federal lands to drilling, and regulate the H#!! out of nuclear…and you get astronomical energy costs. That KILLS businesses…

Then: Kill the jobs market w/ Obamacare, and other horrible federal policy…and the Housing market, that ignites so much consumer spending stays SICK for six years…and EVERYBODY suffers…

Communism died when the USSR collapsed under it…Hopefully we’re seeing the disassembly of US Liberalism as Obama has wrecked our economy, putting into place all the Ignorant, born-to-fail tenets of liberalism….

We cannot jettison Obama, and the Democrat Party fast enough. And the GOP will be FORCED by the people, to eradicate all of the terrible, bigoted and hateful policies of bitter, anti-American Obama…..

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FastEddy23 May 3, 2015 at 9:16 pm

Dittos, basically. But the energy policies are but a smaller part of the bigger economy. There is really way too much non-productive overhead being built into the private sector … mostly government regulations and municipal, county, state bureaucracies piling on incremental taxes on the poor and working folks. This is done using excuses like “costs of living” needs, which is government caused inflation.

“The bureaucracy is expanding to fulfill the needs of an expanding bureaucracy.”

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GrandTango May 3, 2015 at 10:18 pm

COL is peanuts compared to the damage and costs, the federal government imposes…through regulation, taxes and hair-brained schemes. If the feds did not empower and enable fear tactics like global warming, the local bodies would have a Much harder time trying to figure out out to stick it to us….

But I do agree that local governments see the Feds do it, and take advantage way too much.

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FastEddy23 May 4, 2015 at 8:35 am

Fear and arrogance…

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Father Karras May 3, 2015 at 11:08 pm

The power of Obama compels you!

The power of Obama compels you!

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GrandTango May 4, 2015 at 10:54 am

You told us you were going to change it all. But when you did it…you all of the sudden disavow the total disaster you created.

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Rocky May 4, 2015 at 11:09 am

DOWs up 85 points right now – you know – that disaster thing?

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GrandTango May 4, 2015 at 11:28 am

Hmmm…85…

Isn’t $85 Billion a month the amount Obama is propping up his rich investor buddies on the stock market with…while working people struggle, and cannot find jobs???

It’s SICKENING what you’re doing to our country…

Rocky May 4, 2015 at 11:34 am

Since most people’s 401Ks are invested in stocks, – you’re finding it sickening that people’s 401Ks are growing?

GrandTango May 4, 2015 at 12:46 pm

Most every working family has had to cash in the 401K just to get by…in Obama’s MISERABLE Economy….
You must live in a cave…where you have no DEALING w/ REAL Americans…

Rocky May 4, 2015 at 1:04 pm

People are cashing in their 401Ks? Oh, let’s fact check that. Let me get with the homeless guys outside Target, I know they’re online with their Obama phones. OK, they’re back with the answer:
1. Fewer U.S. employees took hardship distributions and loans from their 401(k) plans in 2012 compared with 2008—a sign of economic improvement—according to a study by WorldatWork – “The Year Romney was gonna Win!”
2. A recent study by AON Hewitt – the huge HR firm and insurance / reinsurance company – found “Participation rates across companies continue to grow and reach higher levels than ever before. The average plan balance at year-end 2013 eclipsed the previous record high by a large margin, a feat fueled in no small part by the equity bull run.”
Once again – YOU LIE!!!!! LIAR!!!! RUN FROM WHAT YOUR ARE!!!!!!! ROTFLMAO, LMOA, OMG, TTYL.

GrandTango May 4, 2015 at 1:09 pm

Like I said:

You look to some government data to tell you what reality is..even after the IRS, NSA and employment number scandals…I know REAL PEOPLE…and what they have had to do, to keep above water in this nightmare of Obama…

Fact is: people KNOW who and what you are…it’s just a F*#king shame so many did not figure it out until after Nov. 2012….or we allowed the mult-voters w/o enforcing voter ID…

This country is in a mess…look at Baltimore, if you need a shot at truth…Baltimore is you – and the Democrat Party…

Rocky May 4, 2015 at 1:34 pm

I look at a lot of different data. Ah, the rebuttal of the truly ingorant – “government lies, you’re facts are lies, private analysis is all lies, you’re a LIAR.” Good one. OK, I’m done whipping your @$$ today.

fc May 4, 2015 at 1:15 pm

Gosh.That ought to stop the Democrats from burning down every one of our inner cities.I bet most of those people in the streets burning,looting,raping and assaulting have 401 K’s? Oh wait.Rocky’s gangsta buddies in the street are doing the above to those that own the businesses and have the 401 k’s. Obama lit the match.Liberal socialists like YOU just poor the gasoline on the fire.

Alias The Buzzman May 4, 2015 at 5:34 am

Communism was not “averted” in the USSR, but stopped working because of the breakup of that forced union, after a long period of total oppression of the people under benighted communist rule. Get your facts straight.

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FastEddy23 May 4, 2015 at 8:37 am

… Plus rampant inflation.

I have several genuine 10,000 Soviet Ruble Bank Notes for sale. Make me an offer!

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GrandTango? Facts? May 4, 2015 at 9:00 am

Oil and water don’t mix.

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GrandTango May 4, 2015 at 10:53 am

You’re just P!$$ed Communism went belly-up. And even more hacked that Reagan forced the Communists to throw in the towel.

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Rocky May 4, 2015 at 11:07 am

But I thought Cuba and China are communists, along with Vietnam? Isn’t that why you’re made Obama is re-establishing relations with Cuba?

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GrandTango May 4, 2015 at 11:30 am

Kennedy cut off Cuba. Looks like Castro got the last laugh and JFK’s murder…thanks to Obama…

No wonder your own party is beginning to HATE you….

Rocky May 4, 2015 at 11:39 am

Oh, so Kennedy was killed by Castro. You solved it!!! OMG – TTYL – now we know the real story. And Romney wone by a landslide in 2012. Who knew?

GrandTango May 4, 2015 at 12:43 pm

Not what I said Dumb@$$…I’m saying Castro won…thanks to Obama opening up trade w/ Cuba…against JFK’s prohibition.
And please don’t mention Romney winning in a landslide in 2012….If he did the country would not be ON FIRE, and spiraling downward right now…I just wish it were true…for my country’s sake…

Rocky May 4, 2015 at 1:08 pm

You said – Looks like Castro got the last laugh and JFK’s murder – the sentence is structured to place Castro as the primary focus, and that he got the last laugh and JFKs murder. Hence, you’re either retreating from what you said, or can’t concisely articulate what you want to say.

Ahahahaha! LMAO Much?? May 4, 2015 at 1:38 pm

“And please don’t mention Romney winning in a landslide in 2012…. because I looked like an idiot running my big Turdo mouth.”

You mean this: “Obama has a record…and there is just no way he can overcome that vs a man as sharp and successful as Romney…”

Alias The Buzzman May 4, 2015 at 12:19 pm

A bizarre misreading of my words.

In actual reality — where you never dwell, apparently — Reagan’s bluff on Star Wars was a factor that lead to the collapse of the Soviet Union.

However, there were other factors as well in that collapse, as well as the wall coming down in Berlin, and the “Iron Curtain” being relegated to the dustbin of history:

Lech Walesa and the workers in the Solidarity movement for never yielding, once they put the pressure on.

The Pope, though I don’t remember why exactly, except his being an inspiration.

The people of Russia, other nations of the USSR and the Iron Curtain nations, for getting fed up with so many empty lifetimes of an equal share of basically jack-shit.

That dude with the purple splotch on his head (Malkovitch? No that’s not right), for managing to weaken their position in the world to the point that all the fed-upness of the people and their resolve to end the “Evil Empire” could become a cohesive force against tyranny.

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Alias The Buzzman May 4, 2015 at 12:22 pm

RE: Malkovich and Quiznos — I mecca de choke!

fred farkel May 4, 2015 at 10:12 am

More bull shit from GrandTango! You can’t get past the idea that Barack Obama caused of this. Let’s forget Bush-Cheney. Let’s put a couple of light weights like Cotton or Rubio in office. Sorry to disapoint you pal, but retail and business was sick 15 to 20 years ago. But hey, we have a black president in office that you can hate. Out of curiosity, what the hell have done with your life, and what are your solutions?

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GrandTango May 4, 2015 at 10:52 am

Always run from WHO and WHAT you are…No one believes you anymore. They KNOW what you did.

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Rocky May 4, 2015 at 11:06 am

Just curious, so a) he didn’t allow for enough drilling – yet under Obama US oil production hit all time highs. Then, he caused higher oil prices, but right now oil prices, adjusted for inflation, ar are at all time lows. So I’m wondering – do you have a source for any facts, or do you just make them up. Because proving you wrong is getting so easy, I hand it off to three homeless guys near Target.

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GrandTango May 4, 2015 at 11:34 am

You use media cliches to sell lies and Bull-S#!t..

.Energy prices have been ASTRONOMICAL under Obama for almost ALL of six-plus years. The reason the inflation number does not look so bad – according to you – is because inflation has been WILD under Obama, because energy costs have been so high;..

Textbook liberalism. You destroy the economy…and then if there is slight, and temporary, improvement – you claim victory…no matter that the country is still severely ill.

Only stupid people still buy your myths…

Rocky May 4, 2015 at 11:38 am

I use facts, you use hyperbol. It’s really that simple. And you hate facts, because they don’t support your Crapville story. Too bad for you.

GrandTango May 4, 2015 at 12:45 pm

Look at Baltimore…you’re pointing to that as Obama’s Flaming City on a Hill???…LMAO….

Rocky May 4, 2015 at 1:05 pm

No, I poing to Baltimore at what it’s always been, a craphole at the northern extension of the Cheasapeake Bay. Obviously you’ve never been there.

fc May 4, 2015 at 1:09 pm

20 million more adults on food stamps since Muslim Obama was elected.Those riots are a celebration of Obama’s policies. lol

Rocky May 4, 2015 at 1:35 pm

Food stamp usage started climbing as soon as W took office, and have been falling since 2012. But I guess you’re another fact challanged brightfart wannabe.

Native Ink May 5, 2015 at 7:27 am

Yeah, Obama didn’t allow for enough drilling, yet somehow he screwed over the South Carolina coast by opening it up to future oil spills.

I just don’t see why Republicans think Obama is a liberal. Not even G.W. Bush was able to push through a plan to open up the East Coast to oil exploration.

fred farkel May 4, 2015 at 7:45 pm

What the hell are you rambling/talking about? You make absolutely no sense at all. You sound like a lonely little kid that needs conversation, which goes one way. YOUR WAY. Go to bed and suck your thumb.

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GrandTango May 4, 2015 at 7:55 pm

Another idiot, typing but saying nothing.

FastEddy23 May 3, 2015 at 9:08 pm

Rose colored glasses went out of fashion about the time the Kennedy tax cuts were killed by the Johnson administration… to pay for the Southeast Asia Wars.

My own biz is related to high tech and is wholesale B2B mostly. We have not had a decent improvement since 2008 … just keeping on, keeping on, +|- 5% year to year. (I’m not complaining as I believe we are very fortunate compared to many other Taxifornia businesses.)

[rant] What the country’s economy really needs is a whooping great big permanent tax cut. [end of rant]

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vicupstate May 4, 2015 at 4:45 am

A 5% growth in GDP would be considered very, very good by historical standards. Given there has been an economic collapse since 2008, you have done incredibly well. Quit your bitch. Geez.

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FastEddy23 May 9, 2015 at 4:18 am

5% you say? … So, when do we get that?

The last time real GDP was greater than 5% was when republicans ran the White House and congress. …

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Steve May 3, 2015 at 10:19 pm

I am so confused. The GOP is primarily responsible for starting the down slide of the middle class so give me a fucking break with your lamenting its downfall as part of something other than what it is.

Half those businesses were never going to survive in the age of the internet and Amazon, Radio Shack has been dead since the 80s, a lot of those businesses expanded way too fast and are way too close to easy other, and Sears charged you $900 for a stove you could get anywhere else in America for $400.

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idcydm May 3, 2015 at 10:40 pm

You forgot to mention NFTA or did you omit it because it was a Clinton initiative you know that Dem between a Bush or two? Isn’t that other Dem Obama trying to do something like NFTA himself? No I think there is plenty of blame to go around.

BTW hope I didn’t confuse even more.

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Native Ink May 5, 2015 at 7:22 am

I agree the Dems share part of the blame. They’re almost as beholden to corporate cash as the Repubs. But just for the record, Reagan was the first to push for NAFTA, and it was mostly negotiated under Bush I. Clinton had it fall into his lap and he pushed for it to be signed into law. The only people who stood up against NAFTA were a majority of Congressional Democrats.

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Bible Thumper May 4, 2015 at 12:31 am

If jobs are being lost in retail sales, could someone explain this graph to me?
http://data.bls.gov/timeseries/CES4200000001?data_tool=XGtable

Calling his blog “The Economic Collapse Blog” kinda bakes in a bias, doesn’t it? I mean Michael Snyder would look pretty silly forcasting economic, job and wage growth on this site; wouldn’t he?

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FastEddy23 May 4, 2015 at 8:19 am

Your graph is interactive.
-Change the start date to 2000. -press the “go” button.

This new graph will show that Obamanomics has caused a deeper slump in jobs/wages than 9/11/2001 did, by almost double.

(The reason The Gruberment Labor Department started the graph at 2005 was to hide the fact that Obama administration has had a more disastrous effect than Al Quada did.)

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What Graph Are You Reading? May 4, 2015 at 8:45 am

All I see is a huge slump in 2008 and a recovery over the next several years.

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FastEddy23 May 8, 2015 at 11:23 pm

I don’t instruct in the usage of interactive web pages anymore. … Perhaps you might ask some hats-on-backwards, short pants kid about how to regenerate the graph.

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Rakkasan May 4, 2015 at 7:27 am

Wait. I thought that was the free market at work. Isn’t that supposed to be good Wil?

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FastEddy23 May 4, 2015 at 8:07 am

What free market would that be? Hong Kong and Shanghai have a more unrestrained economy than does the U.S.A. … That’s why Chinese investors are interested in beach/resort properties in SC., they have surplus profits to invest.

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Rakkasan May 4, 2015 at 8:20 am

Well, maybe we can talk BMW, Boeing, Michelin etc into building big dorms and require workers to live there and get paid in credits they can spend at the company store. Watcha think Eddy? BTW, you think US companies aren’t sitting on mega profits?

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FastEddy23 May 4, 2015 at 8:25 am

The old style communist ways have very little to do with the more modern “hands off” approach of the current Chinese g’ment.

Next you will be whining for free food … Oh wait!

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Rakkasan May 4, 2015 at 9:47 am

No. Cause they have an even greater tolerance for suffering than Repubs. They give a damn whether old people starve or children go hungry. They are totally OK with neglect resulting in “reducing the surplus population” Remember these are the same folks that brought you the one child rule–and the gov’t got to pick the gender of the survivors.

FastEddy23 May 8, 2015 at 11:26 pm

I’m guessing you have not seen “Soviet Story” yet.

BMW's Intellectual Rights May 4, 2015 at 8:43 am

Chinese cars rip off designs from companies like BMW and thanks to being unrestrained BMW can’t sue them when they do. The Chinese cars also crush like a tin can when hit at low speeds too. Wow, can we please be more like China? Who doesn’t want to be pancaked like Wile E. Coyote in a 25 MPH accident?

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Squishy123 May 4, 2015 at 10:29 am

Boo hoo, Break My Windows employee is upset.

FastEddy23 May 4, 2015 at 8:58 am

Your BTW: yes, of course. And a very large percentage of those mega profits remain off shore because the U.S. Gruberment would double tax those Buck$ if they were brought home. Example: Apple Computer now has several Billion Dollar$ stashed in Europe, mostly in Ireland … If they gave those Buck$ to their stockholders, the stockholders would have to pay the extra taxes. … Same, same with Intel, G.E., AT&T, IBM, et al, and of course ALL U.S. Based Big Oil.

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Rakkasan May 4, 2015 at 9:51 am

So rather than talk about free market crap, maybe you could talk about tax policies that continue to favor the oligarchs and plutocrats–and fixing them

Lots of BS May 4, 2015 at 8:39 am

Why is Sears listed when they are being run into the ground with horrible management?

Why is Radio Shack listed at all? They killed themselves by not making themselves profitable. They even made fun of themselves with a Super Bowl commercial in their dying breaths.

Why is Office Max and Staples listed when those guys are pricing themselves out of the market?

Why is Tiger Direct listed when they are focusing more on an online retail model?

Why do we give a shit about Canadian jobs with Future Shop and Target?

Why do we care if bagel shops close? Bagel shops do well in some areas and horrible in others, location location location.

This list is nothing but a bunch of names and numbers if you are going to ignore the actual reasons why these stores are closing. You can’t blame every store closing on a politician or the economy in general. If I started a shop selling rat turds for $100 and went out of business whose fault would it be? Would my business be on this list?

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FastEddy23 May 4, 2015 at 8:44 am

Sears is doing better … They bought out K-mart and closed a bunch of those stores, too.

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Sears Getting Sheared May 4, 2015 at 8:51 am

They took over K-mart, another failing business, a long time ago. They are closing both K-mart and Sears stores nationwide. You don’t even have to leave South Carolina to know that, we have had so many closings of Sears and K-mart stores it is hard to find one at all anymore.

JC Penney screwed up with a change in pricing structure that eliminated the gimmicky sales, which was a gut punch to their business that they reversed and still haven’t recovered from. Another business failure that shouldn’t be blamed simply on the economy.

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west_rhino May 4, 2015 at 9:28 am

K-Sears has become a real estate company putting location, location location on the block as their top revenue generator.

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Reading Material May 4, 2015 at 8:59 am

Here’s some fun articles for Sears:

http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2014/11/11/as-sears-gasps-lampert-turns-to-financial-engineering-to-revive-it/?_r=0

http://www.thestreet.com/story/12883736/1/how-dying-retailers-like-sears-are-trying-to-stay-alive.html

http://predictableprofits.com/sears-dying-can-avoid-fate/

(That one says Sears’ share price is down 76% since 2007, oh yeah they’re doing great!)

I also have many stories about Sears’ customer service, from their stores to their credit cards to their car shops to their servicing of appliances. Craftsman tools are a shadow of what they were before too. When Sears kicks the bucket no one will shed a tear. Just look at the news for them the past several years, nothing but store closings. It won’t be long now.

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Rocky May 4, 2015 at 9:40 am

Retail stores are closing? OMG – what could cause this. It must there are no sales. Oh wait – this tidbit from two weeks ago – “Overall the U.S. e-commerce market grew 15.4% to $304.91 billion, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce”

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fc May 4, 2015 at 10:05 am

Really?

In February, spending at gasoline stations rose for the first time since May 2014, a reflection of slightly higher prices at the pump. Sales are down 23% from a year earlier….

But in February, Americans trimmed spending at restaurants, as well as auto dealers, electronics, building supply and department stores.

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Rocky May 4, 2015 at 10:37 am

OH yeah. February. Hey, when it’s 15-degrees outside and snowing, or the roads just filled up with freezing rain and sleet – do you often head out then for dinner and drinks? Every time right now I head out with my family to eat out, we end up either waiting for 30 minutes, or spending 45 minutes going to different places, and then still waiting 30 minutes. I must live in some alternative universe.

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Rocky May 4, 2015 at 10:42 am

FC – so overall Q1 – “The U.S. Census Bureau reported that restaurants and bars sales penciled to $150.4 billion in the first quarter, marking the first time on record for sales to reach $150 billion level. In addition, sales volume in the first quarter of 2015 is up 4% from fourth quarter of last year.” Again, facts suggest consumers are spending.

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E Norma Scok May 4, 2015 at 10:20 am

Odd that a purely unneeded, expensive store like West Marine is only closing 10 stores out of their over 400. I can think of about 3-5 right stores off the top of my head that should be shuttered.

Everything in West marine can easily be bought for 20-40% cheaper on line. I’ve wondered for years how they’ve stayed in business.

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Squishy123 May 4, 2015 at 10:27 am

When I can go on Amazon, with Amazon Prime and pay less, get 2 day shipping to my front door and don’t have to pay sales tax? Hell yes I’m buying it online.

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Crooner May 4, 2015 at 3:01 pm

Sounds like a good argument for another round of stimulus, paid for by increasing taxes on the rich, who are apparently hoarding rather than spending their wealth.

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Reese Bobby May 5, 2015 at 2:03 pm

Twenty first century retailing…get cheap merchandise made in China, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, etc, mark it up to a ridiculous price, have a buy one get three (plus a free puppy) sale, advertise the heck out of it, and see the bargain seekers clamor for it. Works for Jos Bank… The retailers have created an environment of cheap goods at a “cheap” price that can be purchased in person or on line. Customer service has virtually vanished. Only the strong survive, meaning only the operators who keep costs down (labor) can eke out a profit.

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