The pandemic has caused or accelerated the demise of numerous U.S. companies, and your local department stores are among the hardest hit. Government lockdowns and consumer reluctance in 2020 intensified longstanding pressures on the brick-and-mortar retail industry, pushing many iconic names, such as Neiman Marcus, J.C. Penney, and Belk, over the edge and into bankruptcy – events that have elicited laments about not only the companies and workers involved but the broader, long-term decline of brick-and-mortar retail and, by extension, the American middle class. Such claims, however, are heavy on nostalgia but light on facts – especially when it comes to the e-commerce jobs replacing lost department store jobs. Indeed, while department store closures are undoubtedly difficult for the companies, workers, and (perhaps) communities involved, their secular decline has little to do with the state of the middle class and may, in fact, be something to celebrate.Read the rest of this post →
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