Another great post Garrick.
Retail is a passion of mine as well. If you look at the numbers for department stores vs online brands, there are some very revealing cultural truths. For example, Nordstrom and Macy’s spend $0 on R&D [according to wikinvest], compared to billions spent by Amazon on research and development. You see this paying off in Amazon’s Go concept, while in contrast, Sears and Macy’s are having trouble keeping their stores merchandised.
Also, the impact department stores make on other brick and mortar retail is systemic. Malls live and die along with their anchors, one of which is often a Macy’s — and other anchors including Sears. Stores in malls are like ecosystems, with small and medium size brands living off of the foot traffic generated by the consumer interest in the big, iconic anchors. Investors in malls and small/medium size retail [like The Limited] should be on the lookout for a systemic failure of retailers if Macy’s fails, and when Sears does. The retail capacity in this country is massively oversaturated and the potential impact is large.