Over the past several years the economy has been hard on business, even business that most thought would be insulated from a bad economy, big box retail. But even the big box retail stores have had issues and several are contracting, closing stores or consolidating with other big box chains.
If you look back over the last few years several big box stores of all types have disappeared. One huge book seller, Borders, went out of business. They lost out to Barnes and Noble. Barnes and Noble is fast going under as well to online sellers like Amazon. Big box retail like Walmart and Target are actually down sizing (or contracting) in some areas because being big is now in their way. Others like Office Depot and Office Max, two large office supply chains are merging together in order to be able to compete with their other main competitor, Staples. All of these businesses have to deal with Amazon as well.
It was probably inevitable. In many situations having 3 different big box retail office supply stores in one area was overkill. Same with several department stores like Walmart, Kmart and Target. There is only so much to go around and when the economy tanked, people had less money to spread around. That meant there was no longer enough to support them all.
So what can the big box stores do to change their luck? First, put the emphasis on customer service. Customers should not walk into a store and not find competent staff to help them no matter what the economy is doing. Too often customers walk into big box stores like an Office Depot or Best Buy and can’t find anyone to help them, or worse yet, get wrong information. Nothing will make people stop shopping at a store than getting bad information that costs them money especially in this economy.
Big box retail is going through contracting. How they continue to handle it from here on out will determine if the contracting is over.