– Editor’s note:
While the City of Yelm has economic development here as a primary objective, that may now be misplaced amidst a cultural shift in shopping to more online retailing, leaving traditional brick and mortar stores in very challenging positions to survive. While city councilors Carmody and DePinto explained to the council on April 24th how small business has been helped, Yelm is still considered “business unfriendly” by new potential entrants along with society’s changing purchasing channels, which do not favor more stores opening here.
These factors are now dominating the economic environment:
* New product introductions skip the stores and go straight to shoppers,
* Companies boost loyalty, profits by selling to customers directly on social media, websites.
The retail space vacancy rate in Yelm is still quite high and is echoing this cultural shift.
I again renew my previous calls for Mayor Foster to call a Yelm Economic Summit to gather the best minds from our region to discuss this situation and develop a plan for Yelm’s future. And the one sector of this area’s economic vitality which is continually overlooked by the city and the chamber should also be included – the area’s home-based businesses. Excerpts of recent news stories are highlighted below underscoring this trend:
1. “JC Penney’s CEO just signaled the end of retail as we know it”
“Meanwhile, home-improvement stores have become one of the few spots in retail that are less vulnerable to the threat of Amazon” by Mary Hanbury, Business Insider.
2. “Sears to close dozens more stores as sales plunge”
“After this round of closures, the company will have about 800 stores, down from about 1,000 at the end of last year and far below the 2012 peak of 4,000 stores,” by Anne D’Innocenzio and Michelle Chapman
3. Dining by delivery reshapes restaurant biz
“Delivery boom is changing everything about the restaurant business”
“But so many diners want their food delivered to their front doors instead that the eateries have to carve out valuable space dedicated solely to fulfilling those orders.”
“Growth in the restaurant industry is coming from those who are dining at home.
“Customers are increasingly ordering food through apps on their smartphones or by calling in. And that demand for deliveries, from sit-down restaurants as well as the more familiar pizza chains and Chinese take-out spots, is dramatically changing the restaurant industry,” by Charisse Jones, USA TODAY.
4. “Retail in peace: A look at 19 dead (or dying) malls”
Photos of dead and abandoned malls in America after the economy passed them by.
By Joel Anderson, MSN.
5. “Walmart abruptly announced plans to close 63 of its Sam’s Club locations across the country.”
“The wholesale club location closings span from Alaska to Puerto Rico.”
“Some of the shuttered stores will be converted into e-commerce fulfillment facilities [including a Renton, WA location],” by Lauren Thomas and Nick Wells, CNBC.