One of my favorite apocalyptic novels, though it is not always viewed as such, Gillian Flynn's Goodbye Girl, has the sartorial collapse of her Midwestern town centered around the closing of its Mega Mall.
Very few commenters on the novel seemed to even pause at the idea that an economic collapse should center around the retail market. I guess we are a long way from the handwringing over the industrial core (a.k.a. The Rust Belt) of our country.
When an apocalyptic novel has a mega economic collapse, it usually starts in the banking sphere; Granted a portion of our economy that does look a bit like a house of cards at times. But not wanting to get lumped in with those hedgehog prognosticators who are one-note harpies of doom, I feel I must offer alternatives..
So here we have consider the start of the retail driven apocalypse.
This Is the Real Reason Sbarro Is in Bankruptcy
Neil Irwin, New York Times (Economix), 13 March 2014 (hat tip: MR)
Let’s get this out of the way first: The food at Sbarro, the pizza-and-pasta chain, isn’t very good. The pizza crust manages to be both thick and limp, the tomato sauce bland, the cheese the victim of sitting for too long under heat lamps.
Plenty of fast-food places serve food that isn’t very good. But Taco Bell, Arby’s and Long John Silver, to cite three examples, have not found themselves at the doors of a bankruptcy court twice in the last three years, an honor Sbarro managed this week with a Chapter 11 filing...
The reason Sbarro is having a rougher time than other, more solvent purveyors of not-good food goes to the root of its business: You eat Sbarro not because you want Sbarro, but because it is the food that is available at the moment you want some food. The last time I ate at one of its 800 locations was in an airport where the next best alternative was a turkey wrap that looked as if it had been in the chiller even longer than the Sbarro pizza had been under the heat lamp.
Ms. Flynn's novel also noted the demise of the local second tier tourist sites within her collapsing scenario, so we will need to be on the lookout for other signs.The company is in financial trouble because one of its big bets on real estate — that Americans will keep going to mall food courts en masse — has turned out to be wrong.