Friday, March 14, 2014

Death of the mall: the fallout

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. 
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.  
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.


Stephen said...

Hummm, food for thought indeed.

Harry Flashman said...

I never heard of that place. Sounds nasty.

PioneerPreppy said...

Location location location.

James M Dakin said...

I thought malls have been dead for some time. Course, mall shoppers aren't there for value, are they? I must be out of touch, peering from my Safe Place for the arrival of UPS with more Amazon goodies.

kymber said...

teehee. that Stephen above is funny. i have never heard of the place and if i ever did encounter one, i certainly would not enter it. we have one mall on the whole island and i avoid it like the plague. we try to do all of our shopping as locally as possible in our 2 nearby towns and we only go to the mall when it is absolutely necessary. and we would never, ever, ever eat in one.

i may not comment all of the time Russell but it's only because i have nothing more to add than "great link", "great article", "great review". but i read every single one of them. i think you have some sort of sixth sense when it comes to these things. and i appreciate the amount of time and effort that goes in to your posts.

your friend,

russell1200 said...

Stephen: LOL- Sbaro's is not for thinking food though.

Harry: they suckered you in by looking better than they tasted.

Pioneer: Of course. Possibly you could make the effectiveness of a buggout location as being inversely proportional to its distance from a Sbaros.

Kymber: Thanks. But per my comment to Harry, the look was generally deceiving and if you went long enough you would forget how bland it was. That and the fact that you were probably starving and it was either that or Mrs. Field's.

The Geeks said...

Thanks for review, it was excellent and very informative.
thank you :)