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The retail crisis is a big deal

Are stores closing in your neighborhood, too? Is the local mall featuring more and more shuttered spaces where thriving businesses used to be? Well, there's a reason for it- and it's having a huge impact on the lives of a great many Americans.

The American consumer economy is in transition. We used to buy things in stores. Now, we buy them online. Warehouses, not local retail businesses, are meeting our needs. And the result is the dislocation of a huge number of Americans who used to wait on us, ring up our purchases, bag the things we buy, get things from stock, and in short do all the things the pickers and packers at Amazon and its ilk are doing right now.

The retail crisis is putting an awful lot of people out of work. People who are out of work can't buy things, and that puts even more pressure on the retail sector. If there's a segment of the American workforce that's in trouble these days, it's retail workers. And the problems involved in transitioning to an electronic economy demand major attention from our business and political leaders.

Somehow, those people who used to wait on us are going to have to get through the transition, and it's not clear how they're going to do it.

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