One of the most fundamental concepts of Darwinism is evolution. You evolve or you die.
Unfortunately, Sears—the retailer that revolutionized the industry during the late 1800s and early 1900s by selling its wares through a catalogue, goods that were delivered from its main distribution center in Chicago—is now beset by serious issues. Ironically, the catalogue has now been replaced by the internet; brick and mortar has been partially replaced by distribution centers; and Amazon has replaced Sears as well as many other retailers as the first stop for shoppers.
This past week Sears announced that same-store sales, those that have been opened for at least one year, dropped 15.3% and that revenue fell 25% to $3.7 billion from $5.0 billion over that same period. Sears and Kmart, another challenged retailer that Sears purchased in 2004, expect a net loss for the third quarter in excess of $190 million. This unfortunate turn of events for Sears should serve as a lesson for any business owner, small or large.
SNAP, especially in technology. One minute you’re all the rage, on the cutting edge and the next you are fighting for your life. Did we just say Snap? For those that are not familiar with Snap, the company provides camera-like functions via an online application. Unfortunately, they have settled right into the cross-hairs of Facebook and their latest quarterly results indicate that this has become a one-sided battle, with Snap on the losing side. Quarterly revenue for Snap came in nearly $30 million below the consensus estimate while earnings per share also disappointed. Furthermore, both the number of daily active users as well as the average advertising revenue per user also came in below what Wall Street analysts expected. Most telling is the average revenue per user. Snap reported $1.17 while Facebook reported $5.07. Average revenue per user for Facebook has risen by 26.43% over the trailing twelve months.
According to Cowen & Company, as of 2015 the United States had 7,567 square feet of gross leasable area (GLA) or 23.5 square feet of GLA per capita. Compare this to its northern neighbor Canada which has only 16.4 GLA per capita or the United Kingdom at 4.6 GLA per capita and one can see why a reduction in GLA is necessary before brick and mortar retail becomes competitive with Amazon. Perhaps this is why clothing retailer Lord & Taylor just sold its 676,000-square foot iconic headquarters in New York City to WeWork for $850 million. This sale represents how America is evolving, reducing its physical footprint while WeWork, a company that provides shared workspace for “entrepreneurs, freelancers, startups, small business and large enterprises,” expands theirs.
Adjust and change
It is with great sadness that baseball fans mourn the death of Roy Halladay who passed away a week ago when the light plane he was piloting crashed into the Gulf of Mexico. Why mention him within a business column? It is because during Halladay’s rookie season in 2000, while pitching for the Toronto Blue Jays, his earned run average (ERA) was 10.64. This is of note because it is the highest single-season ERA in history for any pitcher with a minimum of 50 innings. However, adapt and change is what Roy went on to do. He went on to win more than 200 games, play in 8 all-star games, win two Cy Young awards and pitch a perfect game in the 2010 World Series. This, as well as his reported unparalleled work ethic, makes him a shining example for those in and out of the business world.
On a lighter note and as long as we are talking baseball, in response to this question posed by a financial news anchor, “If this were a baseball game, what inning would we be in,” a guest responded, “Most likely in the latter part—of the first game. However, have you considered that perhaps we are actually playing a doubleheader?”
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