Gone Are The Mega Malls

When was the last time you visited a shopping mall? It appears that the icon of American retail has officially started to feel the pinch of shoppers. The convenience of indoor sprawl mixed with every brand retailer known to the public eye may have winked its last time to the typical consumer.

 

It was reported that Amazon, Walmart and Home Depot are performing solidly. For all the hype about Nordstrom’s and other retailers such as Victoria’ Secret, it appears an ending is about to come sooner than excepted. Today’s shopper has become lean and fiscally conscious in an economy that nearly a decade ago felt an economic collapse. That feeling still resonates with today’s buyers. In fact, large grocery stores are starting to feel the pinch too. Large chains are beginning to take notice with no frills shopping German grocer Aldi’s and Lidl.

 

While big box stores appear to have stability now, it is safe to assume that the future of shopping mixed with smartphone apps will become a bit more frugal and competitive. Super sized Walmarts are already feeling a decline in individual sales because of marketing designs. A typical consumer may enjoy the low-cost benefits of a particular retail item but complain heavily about how giant Walmart is to locate it. Instead, Walmart appeals to the add-on purchase. It hopes while you are shopping that you will buy something else. However, consumers are beginning to catch on, and it will only be a matter of time before consumers revolt. The supply and demand curve may need reexamining.

 

Amazon’s performance may be at an all-time high. However, I would argue that postal delivery may do more harm to Amazon as the company’s growth expands. Walmart is in the beginning stages of reducing its storefront size and introduce shipping options to compete with Amazon. Other retailers are catching on to add local and same day deliveries. The future of retail may be reverting back to a time when there were actual home visits such as the milkman and vacuum salesperson. Forget about junk mail and telemarketing calls today. I forecast a new sales vision of door and delivery salesmen combined. The new shopping mall may be actually your home and smart device.

 

update: JC Penny released in a statement it will close 140 of its stores effective immediately. Sears and Macy’s have closed a significant amount of stores already. 

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My Amazon Echo is my Alibi?

I could not resist mentioning the recent case involving the Amazon device known as “Echo.” I admit that I have one of these devices. When I heard that an Echo device was being subpoenaed to court because it may have listening data I knew that this story would grow into all sorts of hype. While I understand that police in this particular incident want to comb over every inch of potential evidence, I think we may be opening looking into a Pandora’s Box that may have ramifications.

It was last year a murder case in California had Apple and its iPhone applications at the center of controversy. There was much legal wrangling over consumer data, texts, and other meta information. But what was the most interesting part that differs versus the case of Amazon is that the government wanted to hack into the iPhone. There are currently features such as Siri, Cortana, Google Assistant and countless other devices that seek voice recognition to wake the device. I fear that our home may inadvertently become a crime scene in waiting if we do not stop the overreach of particular law practices and standards.

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I can remember a time where law enforcement tools have evolved from wanted posters to police radio, patrol cars and social networks, such as Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube. Community policing today has also expanded through social networking to locate missing children, alert neighbors of suspicious activity, and even inform the public about crimes committed in their neighborhoods. But it seems that police and other law enforcement organizations are migrating its way into our kitchens, bedrooms, and living rooms. I have nothing to hide. However, I do revere in a bit of personal privacy. The art of secrecy or personal privacy has slowly succumbed its deathbed. Our computer, smartphone, Echo device, automated garage door opener, car and almost anything with a way of connectivity can tell on us. Most disturbing is if there is a time management flaw in the code because that could be the powerful indictment within the law they look for. What can you do to protect yourself from your own devices?

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At one time I was worried about hackers with accessibility to my home security camera, laptop, iPhone and other electronic devices. That later shifted towards foreign governments hacking into my network to do harm to our nation. Within months that seems to have slipped into me being a bit concerned that my own devices are watching me because the police have a suspicion. Folks, all this can be done without much of a warrant. In no way am I eluding that Edward Snowden was correct in his assessment of big brother? But what he shared has had a greater significance on a plausible concern that we no longer have rights to reasonable privacy. If this was a traffic camera where I am behind the wheel near a crime scene, then I can accept that. Hopefully, my alibi would be a credible witness either that saw me or was with me. But I find it difficult for me to grasp that my future alibi may be my Amazon Echo device. That alone is a scary scenario with multitudes of problems written all over it.

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I am an advocate of free will. I do my best to protect animals by working in shelters. I hopefully write witty blogs about the concerns that I see most of you talk about but find little room to do anything about. I embrace technology, pay my taxes, go to school, work hard and have wonderful friends. One thing I will say is that I own my electronic devices. They shouldn’t be considered mature enough to exhibit free will. This means that they are not of legal age, at least of maturity to do human-like things on its own. Therefore I do not consent my electronic devices to exhibit free will or testify on my behalf. That should be where we are today with certain meta or data issues. It is too infantile and too scattered to properly become a reliable alibi for anyone or anything. I don’t want to hinder police from an effective investigation. But we must place a fair and reasonable balance between people and the reach of the law. We may live in America. But with actions like the Amazon Echo warrant, it is beginning to look more like the Soviet Union each and every passing moment. What kind of liberty is that?