Orange County Register
by Margot Roosevelt
July 23, 2017
Orange County, which has long positioned itself as an international shopping mecca, finds itself scrambling to cope with a dramatic upheaval in consumer spending habits.
“Retail is not dead or dying,” economist Wallace Walrod told the Orange County Business Council’s 2017 Economic Development forum last week. “But it is changing rapidly and dynamically before our eyes. Orange County has to adjust.”
As he reeled off statistics to an audience of about 100 business executives and city officials at the Irvine Valley Performing Arts Center, Walrod projected a slide of a newly-created Wikipedia page titled “Retail Apocalypse.”
Among his data points:
–In June, Orange County retail jobs had dropped year-over-year by nearly one percent, even as the county’s population has grown. By contrast, retail employment in the Inland Empire, where Amazon is building its fifth warehouse, rose by 0.7 percent.
–Nationally, 5,368 stores have closed this year, up 162 percent year over year, according to Fung Global Retail & Technology, a leading research group. It forecasts a jump of 361 percent by year’s end.
–Last year, 108.5 million Americans shopped online during Black Friday weekend compared with 99.1 million who shopped in stores. It was the first time more Americans shopped online.