Bye-Bye Big Box?

Type in “Amazon.com” on your computer and add to your cart any item you can think of. Three clicks and two days later, a package arrives on your doorstep. Such is the convenience of e-commerce, which has led many consumers to skip local big-box chains and shop from the comfort of home instead.

Nationwide, brick-and-mortar chains are reeling from this so-called “Amazon effect,” and their Westchester locations have not been immune. RadioShack, Barnes & Noble, JCPenney, Office Depot, Toys“R”Us, Chef Central, and Restoration Hardware have all shuttered locations in Westchester recently, (RadioShack has closed six local stores, and B&N two, though the latter is launching a concept store in Eastchester later this year; the others have closed one county outpost each). These major retailers are consolidating and downsizing, cutting costs and eliminating jobs in an effort to boost profit margins. A&P, Joyce Leslie, Borders, Circuit City, and Sports Authority have not only closed their doors locally, they’ve gone out of business entirely.

Is this the end of big-box retailing as we know it? Not exactly, according to local expert Deborah Widger of Retail Gal Consulting, LLC. “I do not believe Westchester will suffer in terms of big-box closures in the near future,” she explains, because, “Westchester does not have an overabundance of big-box stores,” unlike many areas of the country.

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Widger does warn that big-box stores will need to continue adapting. “Big-box stores must expand their e-commerce and social media to stay competitive,” she says.

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