A Schumpeterian moment, but not just for retailing

Paul Kedrosky is think­ing about the most impor­tant dat­a­point of this hol­i­day sea­son as a Schum­peter­ian moment. Retail data is indeed almost car­i­cat­ural. Phys­i­cal retail­ers are hope­lessly figh­ing for sur­vival while online retail­ing is accel­er­at­ing on its trend. Paul adds in another post:

A great WSJ quote dri­ving home how this truly is retail’s Schum­peter­ian moment:

Ana­lysts esti­mate that from about 10% to 26% of all retail­ers are in finan­cial dis­tress and in dan­ger of fil­ing for Chap­ter 11. Alix­Part­ners LLP, a Michigan-based turn­around con­sult­ing firm, esti­mates that 25.8% of 182 large retail­ers it tracks are at sig­nif­i­cant risk of fil­ing for bank­ruptcy or fac­ing finan­cial dis­tress in 2009 or 2010. In the pre­vi­ous two years, the firm had esti­mated 4% to 7% of retail­ers then tracked were at a high risk for filing.

More here.

Granted, many retail­ers are per­pet­u­ally on the verge of bank­ruptcy, but these are still unprece­dented num­bers. Retail, as we know it, is going to look very, very dif­fer­ent a decade from now.

This Schum­peter­ian moment is hap­pen­ing across a wide range of indus­tries. Many com­menters have long pointed to the com­ing end of indus­trial era actors. Some have fore­casted for years the credit and eco­nomic cri­sis as well as its deep impact. What we’re see­ing is noth­ing more than the effec­tu­a­tion of these analyses.

The dynam­ics are clear and well under­stood. In the case of retail­ing for exam­ple, manda­tory sit­u­ated (in time and place) shop­ping at phys­i­cal retail­ers for the same price as the effort­less, time-saving online shop­ping, is an eco­nomic sit­u­a­tion that is and has been obvi­ous for quite a few years now. These deep trends have been deploy­ing their dynam­ics for a few years, and now they accel­er­ate. Fred is right on with this post:

Clearly the eco­nomic down­turn is the direct cause of most of these fail­ures but I believe it is the straw that broke the camel’s back in most cases.

The inter­net, now clos­ing in on 15 years old in its main­stream incar­na­tion as the world wide web, is in many cases the under­ly­ing cause of these busi­ness failures.

Bits of infor­ma­tion flow­ing over a wire (or through the air) are just more effi­cient than phys­i­cal infrastructure.

The effec­tu­a­tion has begun and 2009 is going to be an excit­ing year.

  • http://www.howardlindzon.com howardlind­zon

    good sum­mary. indeed

  • http://www.macroprinciples.com Julien Le Nestour

    Howard, thanks for read­ing and tak­ing the time for the kind words. Hope to have the chance to meet the man behind the blog and twit­ter one day :-)

  • http://www.macroprinciples.com Julien Le Nestour

    Howard, thanks for read­ing and tak­ing the time for the kind words. Hope to have the chance to meet the man behind the blog and twit­ter one day :-)

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