May 7, 2015
Why Shopping Won’t Save Conway’s Future
With our stuttering economy in mind, a couple of recent news stories easily illustrate the ongoing folly of Conway’s Mayor (and others) who believe shopping centers (and the sales taxes from retail) hold the keys to Conway’s economic future. Just how much real demand is there for more shopping here? Conway’s new shopping centers need...
With our stuttering economy in mind, a couple of recent news stories easily illustrate the ongoing folly of Conway’s Mayor (and others) who believe shopping centers (and the sales taxes from retail) hold the keys to Conway’s economic future.
Just how much real demand is there for more shopping here? Conway’s new shopping centers need to bring in more dollars/generate more retail taxes than now. With consumers holding tight to their pocketbooks these days, new shopping centers will likely only cannibalize sales at existing locations (here and in Little Rock).
In late April the Wall Street Journal reported the “U.S. economy slowed to a crawl as businesses slashed investment, exports tumbled, and consumers showed signs of caution…” As the WSJ reports, our economy expanded at only a .2% rate, down some 80% from forecasted projections of a (hold your seats!) 1% expansion.
Looking specifically at retail, sales are still slipping six years into our “economic resurgence.” Forty-seven major chains now plan to close 6,000 existing stores across the country, as reported by the Conservative Tribune this week (link has since been removed):
“A recent report shows a coming “retail apocalypse,” with major retailers across the country planning on shutting the doors to thousands of stores due to a sharp decline in discretionary consumer spending.
Some of the major retailers who plan on closing at least 10 stores over the next year or so include Radio Shack, Office Depot/Office Max, Dollar Tree/Family Dollar, Walgreens, Barnes & Noble, Macy’s, Sears and JCPenney.
The full list contains the names of powerhouse retailers that drive the consumer economy almost on their own. “Expect to see more storefronts closed at malls across the country,” one retail watcher said. “It’s getting ugly out there.”
Retailers American Eagle and Chico — both slated for Conway’s Central Landing shopping center — are on the list to close existing stores, while Conway’s older Town Center is anchored by a Penney’s store that has had it ups and downs over the years. Office Depot, Dollar Tree and Walgreens also have established locations in town. Certain financial experts say the current rather “flat” economy is the new normal. If so, is Conway prepared for more empty “big box” spaces?
In this anemic economic environment, it’s just not smart to stake Conway’s financial future on retail sales taxes. Conway leadership needs a change in direction.