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posted by charon on Thursday February 16, @06:20AM   Printer-friendly
from the the-wizard-of-omaha-is-never-wrong dept.

When Buffet speaks, people listen:

Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway has sold off $900 million of Walmart stock, choosing to invest billions in airlines instead.

The sale, which leaves Buffett with nearly no shares in Walmart, comes as the US's largest traditional retailer has been rushing to catch up to Amazon and other online competitors.

Amazon's market value is now $356 billion, compared with Walmart's $298 billion. Last year, Buffett acknowledged that traditional brick-and-mortar retailers were struggling in the face of competition from the e-commerce giant.

Yes, but is he still long on Big Cola?


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  • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 16, @06:41AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 16, @06:41AM (#467728)

    At least I can pay anonymously with cash at retail stores. Amazon and such give you no such options. It's sad that so many people don't care about privacy.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 16, @10:13AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 16, @10:13AM (#467748)

      At least I can pay anonymously with cash at retail stores. Amazon and such give you no such options. It's sad that so many people don't care about privacy.

      Do you wear a full face hijab each time you do so? I believe nowadays most stores have a fair number of security cameras.

      • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 16, @10:29AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 16, @10:29AM (#467751)

        Most stores, including small businesses? And security cameras by themselves do not matter; what matters is whether or not they use facial recognition technology. If most stores are using facial recognition, then maybe everyone should wear full face hijabs or masks.

      • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 16, @04:09PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 16, @04:09PM (#467843)

        Big difference between a security camera and a database that records every individual purchase. One requires a human to do some investigation, the other can be spread around from a chair. Security footage would still have to be matched with receipts and timestamps, online db has all the juicy details attached directly to your name and credit card.

        But hey, anonymous cash cards are only used by criminals so we can't have those! Freedom comes with the price of giving those freedoms to criminals, so the only reasonable solution is the same its always been: old fashioned detective work.

        Simple disguises work too, but hey nice use of "terrorist" clothes to underline your point /s

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 16, @05:25PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 16, @05:25PM (#467886)
          Don't mistake "how it's done now by understaffed tech-incompetent police departments" for "required". Facial recognition is a solved problem these days (ask Apple and Facebook, if the feds won't answer your emails) and correlating that identity to the right transaction record is a simple query.

          The Walmarts of the world are already doing this, and if there isn't a startup out there looking to do the same as a cloud service for small shops, there probably will be soon. In the 90s we said information wants to be free. We were wrong, information wants to be monetized.
        • (Score: 2) by darkfeline on Thursday February 16, @06:31PM

          by darkfeline (1030) on Thursday February 16, @06:31PM (#467907) Homepage

          >One requires a human to do some investigation

          The lesson you should take away from recent advances in AI is this: information always wins. So long as you have information that is not 100% random noise, it will be possible to analyze it automatically and extract every bit of information out of it. A medium resolution shot of your face is enough to identify you and correlate the time with the exact items you bought, if not today, then some day very soon from now.

          Privacy is unfortunately a losing battle against mathematics and statistics, in the same way DRM and intellectual property are losing battles. Information always wins.

          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 23, @12:59AM

            by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 23, @12:59AM (#470540)

            Privacy is unfortunately a losing battle against mathematics and statistics

            And we can't regulate the use of facial recognition by giant companies... because?* It would be awfully hard for them to hide its use, and there should be stiff penalties for using it.

            *Because they bribe our government.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 16, @07:19PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 16, @07:19PM (#467920)

      Amazon themselves may not give you the option (yet), but there are third-party services that will let you pay for Amazon (or other e-tailers) with bitcoin.

      • (Score: 2) by bob_super on Thursday February 16, @08:24PM

        by bob_super (1357) on Thursday February 16, @08:24PM (#467940)

        Can I use a blockchain delivery address for my oversized gun safe?

  • (Score: 1) by anubi on Thursday February 16, @07:26AM

    by anubi (2828) Subscriber Badge on Thursday February 16, @07:26AM (#467734)

    So many things I go to WalMart for. Toilet paper. Detergent. Diesel fuel treatments. Tires. Jeans. Socks. Pickles.

    You name it. Damn near everything.

    Don't write off WalMart yet. They are an extremely important distribution hub in getting practical staple items to the public.

    --
    "Prove all things; hold fast that which is good." [KJV: I Thessalonians 5:21]
    • (Score: 1, Offtopic) by Hairyfeet on Thursday February 16, @01:37PM

      by Hairyfeet (75) <bassbeast1968NO@SPAMgmail.com> on Thursday February 16, @01:37PM (#467773) Journal

      My local supercenter has tons of customers even at 4AM and during primetime? That place is fricking PACKED...yeah I really don't think Wally World has to worry just because some rich old dude dumped their stock.

      --
      ACs are never seen so don't bother. Always ready to show SJWs for the racists they are.
    • (Score: 5, Interesting) by SunTzuWarmaster on Thursday February 16, @01:51PM

      by SunTzuWarmaster (3971) on Thursday February 16, @01:51PM (#467775)

      I'm a young-in (30), but you might consider my experience representative:
        - Toilet paper - I buy this in bulk through BJs or Amazon
        - Detergent - I buy this in bulk through BJs or Amazon
        - Diesel fuel treatments - I buy my oil changes from the car repair store (they seem to have the cheapest oil and deals on oil+shopTowels+filter, etc.)
        - Tires - HAHAHA. Rip-off prices here. Order yourself.
        - Jeans - Goodwill (low price) or online clothing companies (high quality: Duluth, LLBean, and Amazon are the last few)
        - Socks - Such low quality socks at Walmart! Got mine from Darn Tough years ago. Lifetime warranty and never buy socks again.
        - Pickles - Pickles, Summer Sausage, Diapers, and Wipes are the classic Amazon "add on" items to bump the price into free shipping range.
      ------
      Concluding - I work 2 miles away from a Walmart that I haven't bought anything from in a _year_. Their prices are not lower than their bulk competition (diapers, wipes, TP, paper towels), their quality is not higher than their quality competition (jeans, socks, tires), their consumer goods prices are TERRIBLE compared to their online competition (PC monitor, cables, refurb ipods, etc.), and going to a store takes a ton of time because of its huge size. I hope that their lunch gets eaten - compared to their competitors, they have lower quality goods at higher prices with less convenience.

      • (Score: 3, Funny) by tangomargarine on Thursday February 16, @03:58PM

        by tangomargarine (667) on Thursday February 16, @03:58PM (#467836)

        I'm a young-in (30), but

        Well, that you don't know how to properly spell "young'un" is a pretty good indicator...

        --
        "Is that really true?" "I just spent the last hour telling you to think for yourself! Didn't you hear anything I said?"
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 16, @05:16PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 16, @05:16PM (#467880)

        Not to dispute anything else you said, but at 30, you are no longer a young'un.
        Sorry, you are a mature adult.

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 16, @05:59PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 16, @05:59PM (#467898)

          "Sorry, you are a mature adult."

          Well, adult, in any case.

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 16, @06:35PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 16, @06:35PM (#467908)

          Sorry you were born in the "wrong decade", but 30 is the new 20. And I find it hard to take a lot of 30 year-olds seriously now a days, especially ones who still live with their parents.

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 16, @06:45PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 16, @06:45PM (#467912)

          OP here. I agree that I am a mature adult. However, the critical market segment that shops at Walmart is the "household", which I think of as the "buys clothes with their own money" age demographic, being represented roughly in ages 20-70. At age 30, I'm on the young side of that demographic, and, as a user on a fringe tech site, on the early adopted side of the "cord cutter", "everything from the internet" group. 22-25 year old represent that group better.

          One sample is rarely representative, but I wanted to draw the distinction that the *tidal wave* of new shoppers are likely not to shop at Walmart for a variety of reasons. Not the least of these is that it *used* to be convenient to have a "one stop shop" megastore where you could buy anything. My parents live in a rural zone and used to have a weekly trip to the one-hour-away Walmart to get household supplies. Now a megastore is actually inconvenient, because of the time spent navigating the *physical* store instead of a *virtual* store can easily be spent on doorstep delivery.

          • (Score: 2) by HiThere on Thursday February 16, @07:53PM

            by HiThere (866) on Thursday February 16, @07:53PM (#467928)

            Reasonable arguments, but the charges for delivery often make shopping the better choice. For clothes I'd like to say that being able to try them on for fit is also important, but, for me, getting to a clothes store has become so difficult that now I *do* order over the internet, even though I'd rather not...and often find myself less than pleased with the cut of the clothes I get.

            That said, I wouldn't expect WallMart to carry anything in my size anyway, and the last time I was in one (somewhere over a decade ago) there wasn't any decent way to try them on for fit anyway.

            --
            Put not your faith in princes.
            • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 16, @09:13PM

              by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 16, @09:13PM (#467964)
              OP here. Yea, I'm pretty boring/efficient. As a byproduct, I order a pair of pants, try them on, make sure they fit, return if necessary, and then order a stack of them from the same company. This way I only end up buying clothes once every few years. The second problem is that the selection on the internet is SO MUCH better. Take my last few purchases - lifetime warranty socks, linen/rayon blend mens yoga pants, high-performance compression socks, spiderman close-fitting undershirt. Yea, whatever, I'm a weirdo, but just _try_ finding any _one_ of those things in a store.
          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 17, @01:16AM

            by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 17, @01:16AM (#468032)

            When I was single I never really shopped at mega stores. They did not have things I needed. Now that I am married that *all* changed.

            I went from needing a bit of food and sometimes, a bit of TP, maybe the occasional fixit thing. Any store pretty much filled that need online offline whatever. But now I need junk in BULK. Online stores rarely compete with the local ones on price plus shipping cost once you start buying large amounts. Take something like 25 pounds of cat litter. Something I did not know about cats are they are picky about their litter. So you have to buy the kind they like. Online once and awhile will beat brick stores. Most of the time it costs as much to ship as the cost of the item. However, I still have a 3 week outstanding order of litter from amazon. Has not shipped yet. Well cats still need litter. Many times though once you get past about 2 pounds of stuff the price for shipping goes up geometrically not everything is free. Sometimes you can get a deal on total cost but not always.

            Also I have pretty much given up trying to buy cloths online. It is a waste of time. Buy item that looks nice. Get it and it is so f-ng cheap it is already coming apart or does not fit. So you spend a bunch of time messing with return. Buying local lets me usually skip the return step. Forget trying to buy womans cloths online. My wife has spent more time returning items than the ones she can wear. As every company has a different idea of what 'size 8' is. Mens cloths are a bit better but not much.

            My local mall has about 200 shops. 20 of them are empty. 2 years ago they banned any shoppers under 16 to be in the mall by themselves. They nuked their next demographic shopper from orbit making it clear they are not welcome. The place is mostly dead now in the evenings. I parked next to the door several times this last Christmas. I talked to a couple former managers for those stores. "why did you close you were doing great?!" "we couldn't afford the rent anymore they kept raising it and we just did not have the foot trafic to cover it we moved to a strip mall and pay 10x less and do not have to sell as much to stay open."

            The stores are not dying because they are less convenient. They are dying because they are just not very nice to visit or actually hostile to new shoppers and shops. My local walmart is gross to go into. The one across town is nice enough as wall-marts go but still kinda boring to go into. The local targets though? Usually fairly busy and seem to be doing decent. But they are nice to go into.

          • (Score: 2) by dry on Friday February 17, @02:40AM

            by dry (223) on Friday February 17, @02:40AM (#468053)

            I'm rural, it's quicker to spend the 15 minutes to go to Walmart (actually their competition that is actually a minute further) then to load most web sites on my only choice of internet, namely dial-up at 5 min. a MB.
            I could go half way, pay a fortune for cellular internet and strain to see the web pages on the phone.

  • (Score: 4, Insightful) by RedGreen on Thursday February 16, @10:41AM

    by RedGreen (888) on Thursday February 16, @10:41AM (#467752)

    Yeah right the death of the brick and mortar described by some idiot who has no clue. The death comes when people have the option to have their goods delivered after 5-6pm when they get home from work or on the weekends. And that assumes you can get them to get by selecting their produce or cuts of meat in person, don't know how many times I have been bitched at over that not meeting the "high" standards when picking it out myself. Can goods different story it is all the same junk in them so no problems there as long as you get the right brand. In short a plain and simple BS article that in all likelihood will never happen as I cannot see the way they will convince people to give up the habits of a lifetime for the supposed advantage it will provide.

    --
    "I modded down, down, down, and the flames went higher." -- Sven Olsen
    • (Score: 3, Informative) by Wootery on Thursday February 16, @12:13PM

      by Wootery (2341) on Thursday February 16, @12:13PM (#467760)

      The death comes when people have the option to have their goods delivered after 5-6pm when they get home from work or on the weekends.

      Here in the UK, we have that today.

      that assumes you can get them to get by selecting their produce or cuts of meat in person

      I'm not sure I follow. Do you mean you don't trust staff to deliver quality goods compared to when the customer picks them out themselves? This isn't generally a big problem in my experience.

      • (Score: 2) by RedGreen on Thursday February 16, @04:03PM

        by RedGreen (888) on Thursday February 16, @04:03PM (#467840)

        "I'm not sure I follow. Do you mean you don't trust staff to deliver quality goods compared to when the customer picks them out themselves?"

        Going by what I have seen on the store shelves and the lack of quality when stocked by them not a chance in hell I would trust their judgment as to what is a quality good. And good luck getting anything delivered here in Canada anyways at anything other than an 8-5 Monday-Friday time window.

        --
        "I modded down, down, down, and the flames went higher." -- Sven Olsen
        • (Score: 3, Informative) by WillR on Thursday February 16, @05:44PM

          by WillR (2012) on Thursday February 16, @05:44PM (#467893)
          Every grocery is going to have a few bananas that turn brown and a few pieces of meat that are mostly fat and gristle. In ye olden tymes when people went to the grocery store and picked their meat and produce in person, they would have to throw bad items out or mark them way down. Adding a delivery business gives them a chance to move the crap out the door at full price!
          • (Score: 2) by RedGreen on Thursday February 16, @06:52PM

            by RedGreen (888) on Thursday February 16, @06:52PM (#467915)

            "Adding a delivery business gives them a chance to move the crap out the door at full price!"

            Indeed my thoughts on it as well. I really cannot see people going for it, it is not like we are past the point of selecting your own at this time. Now durable goods you can wait for like toothpaste, detergent, canned goods ... yeah I can see that happening and would go for it myself in heartbeat if it saved me some cash. Not the fresher stuff where time elapsed matters and the quality of what you are getting is paramount no way.

            --
            "I modded down, down, down, and the flames went higher." -- Sven Olsen
          • (Score: 2) by Wootery on Friday February 17, @09:18AM

            by Wootery (2341) on Friday February 17, @09:18AM (#468146)

            Adding a delivery business gives them a chance to move the crap out the door at full price!

            But you're ignoring repeat custom and the fact that there's a functioning competitive marketplace here.

            • If you screw your customers over whenever they order a delivery, they'll just stop ordering deliveries. They've got by fine shopping in-store so far, after all.
            • If you screw your customers over whenever they order a delivery, they won't be your customers for much longer. Your competitors will be glad to take over for you.

            In theory, there could even be a market for third-party deliverers. Can't see a reason I wouldn't be able to set up Wootery's WalMart Grocery Delivery - Look, No Mould! and compete directly with WalMart on the delivery service.

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 16, @10:14PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 16, @10:14PM (#467988)

          Tons of delivery options where I live in Canada. ranging from 8 in the morning till 11 at night 7 days a week. 0 need to step inside a grocery store.

          • (Score: 2) by RedGreen on Thursday February 16, @10:34PM

            by RedGreen (888) on Thursday February 16, @10:34PM (#467995)

            Good for you but for the rest of us in small town in the middle of fucking nowhere we get what I have already stated.

            --
            "I modded down, down, down, and the flames went higher." -- Sven Olsen
            • (Score: 2) by Wootery on Friday February 17, @09:24AM

              by Wootery (2341) on Friday February 17, @09:24AM (#468148)

              Can't really blame the retailer here though, can we? I imagine it would be just too expensive to offer a really solid delivery service in areas of very low population-density.

              That said, how's Amazon treating you? I guess that's the gold standard these days.

              • (Score: 2) by RedGreen on Friday February 17, @10:36AM

                by RedGreen (888) on Friday February 17, @10:36AM (#468162)

                "That said, how's Amazon treating you? I guess that's the gold standard these days."

                Gold being the key plenty of it being needed for them. They always have the highest price most times whenever I am buying something, so me being tight SOB will go with the lowest price that means they do not get much of my business. The times I have bought from them they were reasonable enough don't like the bait and switch on the shipping. Whereby it says free shipping then you need to go through extra step at checkout to actually get it by removing the paid shipping from the total, that cost them sale couple of months ago when I first noticed it and went with another option because of that scheming.

                --
                "I modded down, down, down, and the flames went higher." -- Sven Olsen
                • (Score: 2) by Wootery on Friday February 17, @02:16PM

                  by Wootery (2341) on Friday February 17, @02:16PM (#468212)

                  Trickery with defaults is always scummy. Looking at you, Microsoft.

    • (Score: 2) by tangomargarine on Thursday February 16, @04:02PM

      by tangomargarine (667) on Thursday February 16, @04:02PM (#467837)

      Yeah right the death of the brick and mortar described by some idiot who has no clue.

      Have you ever heard of Warren Buffet?!

      Warren Edward Buffett (/ˈbʌfᵻt/; born August 30, 1930)[3] is an American investor, business magnate, and philanthropist. He is considered by some to be one of the most successful investors in the world,[4][5] and as of February 2017 is the second wealthiest person in the world with a total net worth of $73.9 billion.[6]

      Berkshire Hathaway Inc. is an American multinational conglomerate holding company headquartered in Omaha, Nebraska, United States. The company wholly owns GEICO, BNSF Railway, Lubrizol, Dairy Queen, Fruit of the Loom, Helzberg Diamonds, FlightSafety International, Pampered Chef, and NetJets, and also owns 43.63% of the Kraft Heinz Company,[2] an undisclosed percentage of Mars, Incorporated, and significant minority holdings in American Express, The Coca-Cola Company, Wells Fargo, IBM and Restaurant Brands International. Berkshire Hathaway averaged an annual growth in book value of 19.7% to its shareholders for the last 49 years (compared to 9.8% from the S&P 500 with dividends included for the same period), while employing large amounts of capital, and minimal debt.[3]

      --
      "Is that really true?" "I just spent the last hour telling you to think for yourself! Didn't you hear anything I said?"
      • (Score: 2) by RedGreen on Thursday February 16, @04:15PM

        by RedGreen (888) on Thursday February 16, @04:15PM (#467844)

        "Have you ever heard of Warren Buffet?!"

        So just because he is rich as fuck does not mean he cannot have a bad day at the office and be talking shit for brains foolishness.

        --
        "I modded down, down, down, and the flames went higher." -- Sven Olsen
        • (Score: 2) by tangomargarine on Thursday February 16, @05:00PM

          by tangomargarine (667) on Thursday February 16, @05:00PM (#467867)

          Seriously: go read the Wikipedia article. He's not just rich; he's demonstrated he's an excellent investor.

          --
          "Is that really true?" "I just spent the last hour telling you to think for yourself! Didn't you hear anything I said?"
          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 17, @02:40AM

            by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 17, @02:40AM (#468054)

            When you are playing with the float of one of the largest insurance companies in the country it is easy to always come out ahead. He happened to notice the opportunity before anyone else. Remember berkshire hathaway is an insurance company. They were also one of the early investors into a tiny mom and pop shop named microsoft. They are still doing decent as he tends to invest only in businesses that are undervalued and could grow. When interest rates were 6-10% he could easy make money just by borrowing the float at 2%. He was one of the first to do it. Now all insurance companies do it. He has also used regulation to lock out competitors (see his rail moves with oil).

            Oh no doubt he is good at what he does. His moves into larger companies show he actually has a problem. He ran out of places to put the money. That he is yanking it out of WMT shows he found somewhere else to put it. Follow that move and you could do fine.

            http://www.berkshirehathaway.com/subs/sublinks.html [berkshirehathaway.com]

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 16, @05:20PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 16, @05:20PM (#467884)

          Yes, he could have a bad day at the office. He could be making a mistake. Or he could be just plain wrong in this decision.

          However, one thing you can't say is that "he has no clue." He's demonstrated time and again insight and foresight. Or are you suggesting he just "got lucky" over the period of decades?

          Ignoring people who just win the lottery, people who climb from poor/middle-class to rich may not be the smartest or best people in the world, but they are also not clueless.

          • (Score: 2) by RedGreen on Thursday February 16, @06:41PM

            by RedGreen (888) on Thursday February 16, @06:41PM (#467911)

            "However, one thing you can't say is that "he has no clue." He's demonstrated time and again insight and foresight. Or are you suggesting he just "got lucky" over the period of decades?"

            Really when I think about it more I doubt he even said that, it is most likely some moron writing a click bait headline once they found out he/his company divested from it to pursue other higher return opportunities. After all he did not get rich holding onto to losers in the long run with no upside, I would think if the situation changes and he sees higher growth returning to the sector he will be jumping right back in.

            --
            "I modded down, down, down, and the flames went higher." -- Sven Olsen
      • (Score: 2) by DeathMonkey on Thursday February 16, @06:35PM

        by DeathMonkey (1380) Subscriber Badge on Thursday February 16, @06:35PM (#467909) Journal

        Yeah right the death of the brick and mortar described by some idiot who has no clue.
        Have you ever heard of Warren Buffet?!

         
        I don't think that quote is from Buffet, it's hyperbole from the article author.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 16, @06:38PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 16, @06:38PM (#467910)

        Maybe his comment is aimed at the writer not the investor. Buffett will simply move his money to a place where he sees more growth potential so his ROI is higher. It doesn't mean brick-and-mortar will disappear.

        Last time someone told me brick-and-mortar stores would soon be out of business was sometime around the year 2000 and the ass-hat sold .com stocks for living. The day he had to pack a box after the bubble burst was quite refreshing.

    • (Score: 2) by AthanasiusKircher on Thursday February 16, @10:00PM

      by AthanasiusKircher (5291) Subscriber Badge on Thursday February 16, @10:00PM (#467983) Journal

      in all likelihood will never happen as I cannot see the way they will convince people to give up the habits of a lifetime for the supposed advantage it will provide.

      Meh. "The habits of a lifetime" are often overcome incrementally while few people notice. You're convinced people won't give up better produce or meat or whatever because they can't choose it? They've already spent a few generations giving up tastier produce and meats for the sake of convenience. A few generations back, you used to go to specialists. Butchers who actually knew what they were doing. Fishmongers who could advise you on the latest catch. Bakers who could actually bake a loaf of bread -- one that tastes darn good. Other bakeries that used to make real cakes from "scratch," not the junk you see sold in supermarkets. And produce? Yeah, there was a lot less selection, and you had to either buy canned stuff in the winter or can your own from the summer crops. But it wasn't produce that had its flavor completely bred out of it just to extend shelf life and make the fruits or vegetables prettier after they've sat in storage for a couple weeks in a truck.

      And no, this isn't some "nostalgia" nonsense -- there are STILL a few such shops left where I grew up. The two local bakeries that survived the past 50 years were the biggest in town back in the day (which is the only reason they survived), and they still make stuff 10 times better than anything you could buy in a supermarket. There's a family-run meat market that's been around for three generations and for some reason actually stocks stuff that has flavor... imagine? Compare that to a typical supermarket steak or pork chop, and there's no comparison. Etc., etc. 75 years ago such shops were the norm; now they're relics from a bygone age. Lots of smaller towns in Europe are still like that, though the supermarkets are taking over there too -- just 50 years later.

      I'm NOT saying modern supermarkets are bad -- far from it. They have an amazing selection of foods that people a few generations ago probably couldn't imagine. But ultimately folks gave up taste for convenience. "Should I run to the bakery because I LOVE their bread... and maybe pick up a couple fresh donuts right out of the fryer? Nah -- gotta meet the kids, so I'll just get this bagged bread in the supermarket. It's fine."

      Millions of little decisions like that eventually meant that all the individual specialty shops went out of business, even if most people would judge the food better on average. Plus, the supermarkets had the advantage of prices in addition to convenience -- through a centralized distribution chain and standardized products/shops, they could drop the price. So then it became a question of whether you want to waste 15 more minutes running to the bakery AND spending 15% or 25% more or whatever.

      Nobody deliberately wanted to shut down all those specialty shops. It was just gradual attrition due to convenience. Similarly, if Amazon or whoever can figure out a way to make buying produce or whatever more convenient and maybe even cost a little less at the same time -- then yeah, I think a lot of customers will gradually start making decisions that will ultimately turn retail in general into what a NEW "bakery" is now, which is often some sort of specialty shop charging insane prices and run by hippies who also know they can make tons of profit by selling a superior product (which is not hard to do at all), so they work 3 days/week and charge $3 for a cookie. If you want the opportunity choose your own produce, you might look forward to an experience like that in a couple generations.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 16, @12:50PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 16, @12:50PM (#467767)

    If our President does make buying American popular, then Walmart and Amazon will have a problem with what they sell.
    Switching to another industry seems wise.

    Switching from necessities like toothpaste, toilet paper, and food to airlines running on peak oil?
    Sure, what could go wrong?

    Too bad the Oracle didn't pick good old US manufacturing.

    • (Score: 2) by butthurt on Thursday February 16, @02:59PM

      by butthurt (6141) on Thursday February 16, @02:59PM (#467804) Journal

      If our President does make buying American popular, then Walmart and Amazon will have a problem with what they sell.

      I'm not sure if this part of your post was meant sarcastically. If not, I don't understand why Walmart and Amazon would have more difficulty in changing suppliers, as compared to other retailers. Are you saying that their contracts with suppliers are especially inflexible? I know that both companies sell outside the U.S. (although the U.S. market is important to them) and some of Amazon's income is from third-party sellers. I just don't see why either would have difficulty in distributing goods made in the U.S.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 16, @03:14PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 16, @03:14PM (#467811)

        Conventional wisdom is that, for Walmart at least, is that a good deal of their store is stocked with cheaper foreign-made items, which is why they can sell at low prices. I think his point is that their prices will have to rise. I have also heard that, again, for Walmart at least, that they really lean on their supply chain to "convince" them to sell at, or below, profit margin. Home Depot is notorious for this (you don't go there to buy good stuff, you go there to buy cheap stuff; the average home owner who is remodeling their kitchen only needs that $100 circular saw to work well for a dozen or so times, but you're making a mistake buying any tools there if your livelihood depends upon your tools).

        • (Score: 2) by butthurt on Thursday February 16, @03:42PM

          by butthurt (6141) on Thursday February 16, @03:42PM (#467827) Journal

          I think his point is that their prices will have to rise.

          That can be expected under a regime of higher tariffs. I would expect that Amazon and Walmart could still offer lower prices than smaller distributors. Their huge distribution networks afford them economies of scale and give them bargaining power with manufacturers, which are part of their pricing advanage. "Toothpaste, toilet paper, and food," as the OP reminds us, will always be in demand. Higher prices may mean that people consume less, but that needn't mean lower profits for retailers.

        • (Score: 1) by khallow on Thursday February 16, @04:03PM

          by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Thursday February 16, @04:03PM (#467838) Journal

          the average home owner who is remodeling their kitchen only needs that $100 circular saw to work well for a dozen or so times, but you're making a mistake buying any tools there if your livelihood depends upon your tools).

          That will remain true even if everything is "made in USA". Cheap tools remain low quality. And the same dynamics that encourage Walmart and Home Depot to sell these items will continue to exist. You'll just pay more for it.

  • (Score: 4, Interesting) by nobu_the_bard on Thursday February 16, @02:11PM

    by nobu_the_bard (6373) on Thursday February 16, @02:11PM (#467781)

    Or it could be that he can make more money investing in airlines? That Wal-Mart is not the largest possible growth opportunity for Warren Buffet does not mean it's going to die soon. If it dies, it'll be a long and slow process.

    Look at K-Mart; the downtown area near me would be better off if someone would deliver a coup de grâce to them already, but those guys are STILL hanging on, if only just barely.

  • (Score: 4, Touché) by donkeyhotay on Thursday February 16, @04:51PM

    by donkeyhotay (2540) on Thursday February 16, @04:51PM (#467863)

    I'm not sure it's fair to compare Amazon to Walmart with respect to how they do business. Virtually anyone can sell on Amazon. Amazon is less like Walmart, and more like the person who owns a big strip mall and leases space to a bunch of various stores. They make money no matter who moves in and sells.

    Walmart's business model depends on discounting name brands in order to get people to come in and buy things they don't really need. So, while Amazon is happy to try to up-sell you, their model does not rely on it. There is less risk.

    From the consumer's point of view, however, they can be compared. Here's how I see it:

    Amazon:
    Sitting in your comfortable recliner, in your pajamas, you go to a website, where you quickly search for the exact item(s) you want. You know immediately if they are in stock. You click a couple of times and purchase your item(s). Two days later, a nice person delivers them to your front door.

    Walmart:
    You have to get up from your comfortable recliner and get dressed. You fight traffic for twenty minutes to get to the store. You park in the nearest available space, which is 400 yards from the entrance. You begin the quarter-mile hike to the entrance, avoiding drug deals, stolen goods fencing, domestic disturbances, and various mentally ill loiterers.

    At the entrance you are accosted by children who are selling (something you don't want) to raise money for (some "service" organization). You don't want to look like a jerk, so you buy a box/bag/tin. You wait several minutes while the adults, who are supervising the children, try to figure out how to make change for your purchase.

    As you walk into the store you are greeted by a senior citizen, for no apparent reason, but social convention requires you to respond even though you don't really want to talk to anyone. You walk another half mile through the store trying to find what you want, discovering that they are either out of stock of your desired item(s) or do not carry your desired item(s), or carry some other damn item(s) that you're going to settle for because you've already lost what little self esteem you had before arriving.

    Even though you only find half the things you're looking for, you nevertheless blow your budget and buy 15 things you never wanted, nor needed, but for some reason seem like a good idea at the time, because you're here and you don't want to feel like the ordeal is a waste of time. At the same time, Walmart reminds you, at every turn, that you're saving money.

    You proceed to the checkout. Even though there are 28 lanes, only three are in operation.

    You stand in line behind eight people at the checkout, all of whom have their carts full, and many of whom have two or more boorish, loud and/or whiny children -- one of whom needed their diaper changed about three hours ago.

    Checkout time is approximately twice as long as the time spent shopping.

    You finally make it out of the store and head for your car, avoiding the previously mentioned obstacles, and praying you aren't mugged.

    You make it home, exhausted, plop down in your recliner, and go to Amazon anyway to order the stuff you couldn't find at Walmart.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 16, @09:57PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 16, @09:57PM (#467979)

      You work at Walmart, don't you?

    • (Score: 2) by urza9814 on Saturday February 18, @01:33AM

      by urza9814 (3954) Subscriber Badge on Saturday February 18, @01:33AM (#468448) Journal

      Sitting in your comfortable recliner, in your pajamas, you go to a website, where you quickly search for the exact item(s) you want. You know immediately if they are in stock. You click a couple of times and purchase your item(s). Two days later, a nice person delivers them to your front door.

      SMH/LMFAO. That's true of Newegg and many other online shops, but certainly not Amazon.

      <RANT>

      With Amazon, it's more like order from my couch, wait two weeks, wonder why the tracking number says it was delivered successfully to Italy (I'm in the US), complain, get a different tracking number that now says the item I just ordered was shipped six months ago, finally get my items a month and a half after I ordered it, in six different boxes half of which are damaged, that I have to retrieve from a block down the street since they can never seem to get it to the correct address. And this is after specifically limiting my search to items with both "Fulfillment by Amazon" and "Free shipping by Amazon" -- apparently adding both of those options is still no guarantee that the item is sold by Amazon or is actually shipping from their warehouse. (Last time I mentioned this here, someone questioned if I was REALLY sure I selected those options. I wasn't, so I started paying more attention. And I found after choosing those options I still got stuff direct from China. Of course, you can tell when you get to the order confirmation and it suddenly tells you that you have to pay six different shipping charges, but there's no real way to filter it out up front...so you either accept it or delete your whole cart and try again...usually with the same result.) And even when the stuff DOES actually ship from their warehouse...I can get an entire PC worth of components delivered from Newegg, and it all comes in one box, two days after I placed the order. With Amazon, I order ten tiny bolts, the one order ships in two separate boxes from the same damn warehouse in Texas, and takes two weeks to arrive. When I specifically requested as few shipments as possible. Even Amazon customer service got confused trying to figure out how the hell that one happened...

      These days I mostly use Amazon when I don't care so much when or even if the item ever arrives. Cheap garbage that I simply can't find elsewhere (other than Ebay or Alibaba, which are even worse than Amazon...) Or when I don't know exactly what I need -- since Amazon has such a large selection, you can usually type any random crap into the search bar and eventually find what you want. But the only thing I'm confident about when it comes to Amazon is that I can get my money back when (not if) there's a problem. It's safe -- possibly safer than brick and mortar since they rarely question a refund or return -- but it's far from reliable.

      They were fantastic before they started adding all this marketplace crap, but now these garbage shops with garbage products have infested the entire site and that place is not just going downhill, it's fallen right off a cliff.

      </RANT>

      • (Score: 2) by donkeyhotay on Monday February 20, @04:34PM

        by donkeyhotay (2540) on Monday February 20, @04:34PM (#469305)

        I've never had an experience with Amazon as bad as what you describe, but I agree that it would be very frustrating to have that sort of thing happen.

        The one thing I can totally agree with you on is the quality of some goods ordered via Amazon. I've received a couple of items that were pretty crappy and obviously Chinese knock-offs. Amazon definitely needs to do something about that.

        Since those two bad experiences I have started getting careful about who I purchase from, rather than just clicking on the least expensive seller. I haven't had any bad experiences for a while now.

        Additionally, to be fair, Walmart sells some pretty crappy stuff too. I've noticed, among people making small talk, there are three "safe" topics for discussion: 1) The Weather 2) Your latest DIY project 3) The most recent thing you've had to return to Walmart because it didn't work.

        :-)

        • (Score: 2) by urza9814 on Monday February 20, @05:33PM

          by urza9814 (3954) Subscriber Badge on Monday February 20, @05:33PM (#469340) Journal

          Additionally, to be fair, Walmart sells some pretty crappy stuff too. I've noticed, among people making small talk, there are three "safe" topics for discussion: 1) The Weather 2) Your latest DIY project 3) The most recent thing you've had to return to Walmart because it didn't work.

          I'm sure they do...although I stopped shopping there about ten years ago. Not that I was shopping there much at the time to begin with, but it was the only place I could find in my hometown to buy a decent pair of sunglasses (it was a small town...) Then I discovered the pairs I was paying $20 for at Walmart could be found online for $7...for a three pack. So that was the last time I went to Walmart...

  • (Score: -1, Troll) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 16, @11:05PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 16, @11:05PM (#468004)

    By the time Wal-Mart built all the transgender washrooms required by Obama's LGBT regulations, they had to mark up prices so much they just can't compete with Amazon. Buffett agrees: men's room for men, ladies' room for women... that's the way God intended it to be.