Remember Borders? What about Circuit City, Tower Records, or Musicland? Those stores were all big chains back in 1995, when Amazon debuted. Now they’re all gone, due in part to pressure from the online retailer that’s upended the American retail landscape.
Jeff Bezos’ company has been blamed for killing off once-stalwart retail chains, forever changing the way we read and shop for books and squashing small businesses. And to hear some tell it, the path to total Amazon domination is just beginning. One investment firm even has a “Death by Amazon” index that tracks the stock prices of 54 retail chains they believe are most threatened by the online retailer.
Of course, Amazon isn’t always solely responsible for killing off struggling stores. Bad leadership and strategic mistakes have done as much to cripple companies, such as Sears and JCPenney, as competition from Amazon, according to some. But when a mega-retailer like Amazon gets a category in its crosshairs, companies in that space generally need to brace for impact.
As Amazon expands into even more areas of retail, from grocery stores to auto parts, the number of companies under threat is growing. If these 17 businesses can’t figure out a solution fast, they might be the next stores destroyed by Amazon.
1. Grocery stores
A Whole Foods Market in Washington, D.C. | Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images
Amazon may only control 1% of the grocery business in the U.S., but it’s poised to take a much bigger piece of the pie, threatening both small and large supermarket chains with its recent purchase of Whole Foods. That has traditional supermarkets very worried. Amazon is entering the highly competitive U.S. grocery market just as a war is heating up between stalwarts, such as Kroger and Safeway, and expanding chains, such as Aldi and Lidl.
Kroger’s stock took a big hit after the Amazon announced it was buying Whole Foods, as did shares of Sprouts Farmers Market and Supervalu. The grocery battle could mean lower prices for U.S. consumers — at least in the near future — as well as a big shift in how we all shop for food, noted Quartz. Yet research suggests many people are resistant to the idea of shopping for groceries, especially perishables, online, so there might be hope for traditional supermarkets.
Next: One of the most popular stores in America also stands to lose because of Amazon’s Whole Foods acquisition.