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Sat Jul 11, 2020, 11:19 PM

The end of small business

Giant corporations may be the only survivors in the post-pandemic economy

Antonioís, my kidsí favorite pizza-by-the-slice joint, will be fine. As for the rest of downtown Amherst, Mass., where I live ó Iím not so sure.

Antonioís is (or was, before March) perpetually swarming with high school and college students, local adults, and the occasional out-of-towner. Itís a hub of the Pleasant Street district, which is, by my count, home to three cafes, three bubble tea shops, more than 40 bars and restaurants, a century-old stationery store, five hair salons, two bookstores, one toy store, five boutiques, one movie theater, and a florist. Maybe Pleasant Street isnít quite as hip as Williamsburg, Brooklyn, but itís a great place to meet friends, browse or get ice cream. The large majority of the businesses are owned by women and members of minority groups, according to the Amherst Business Improvement District, and have fewer than 10 employees.

What will be left of that vibrant downtown when we emerge from the coronavirus crisis?

Eventually, the overall economy will recover, more or less. People will need to buy things and pay for services. But the coronavirus will radically reshape Main Streets across the country, accelerating changes long in the making ó chain stores will replace mom-and-pop businesses, some storefronts will remain vacant, and cash that once went into local hands will be redirected to Amazon and Walmart. (Amazon chief executive Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post.) The pandemic will reinforce and exacerbate what were already the two key economic trends of our lifetime: consolidation and inequality.

For decades, large businesses have been taking market share from small businesses, and the corporations at the top of the pyramid have been consolidating into ever-bigger megacorporations. In the 1980s, half of retail shopping took place in independent stores; today, it is less than one-quarter. From 2002 to 2017, Home Depot and Lowes almost doubled their joint share of the home-improvement retail market, from 42 to 81 percent. Even before the coronavirus struck, in 43 metropolitan areas more than half of all groceries were bought at Walmart. Those trends will be amplified: Many small businesses and weaker corporations wonít have enough capital to outlast the pandemic, and their customers will be claimed by a handful of winners with the cash and technological infrastructure necessary to survive and prosper in the new environment.


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Reply The end of small business (Original post)
Zorro Jul 11 OP
LakeVermilion Jul 11 #1

Response to Zorro (Original post)

Sat Jul 11, 2020, 11:22 PM

1. Good observation!

I can't understand why small business aligns with large businesses. What's good for large corporations only trickles down to local businesses. I imagine small businesses are kept in line by the Chamber of Commerce.

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