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Our expert voices conversation about the death of retail.

Best Buy was written off for dead a few years ago. The company rebounded through sharper pricing, more services, and an increased assortment of products that aren't readily sourced online, such as mobile phones and brown goods.

For customers, the experience of retail shopping retains an edge over the online experience. Shopping remains fundamentally a social experience that people enjoy doing together. Two, customers continue to rely on malls to access services such as nail salons, for purchases that require customization, such as the tailoring of garments, and for entertainment.

For some product categories, retail settings are simply superior. For example, companies who struggle to express important features of their product online — such as sportswear, for which the texture and precise color of fabric is critical — will continue to rely on stores.

Moreover, new retail formats are emerging that are less susceptible to online competition. Brands like Uniqlo, H&M and Zara sell lower-priced products that are often purchased on impulse and do not offer sufficient margin to cover the cost of returns and free shipping that online shoppers demand.

The bottom line: Retail employment will not disappear. It will decline, but stabilize as retailers innovate.

Other voices in the conversation:

Joseph Fuller is Professor of Management Practice at Harvard Business School.

Go deeper

Ina Fried, author of Login
27 mins ago - Technology

Google's parent shuts down effort to deliver internet via balloons

Image: Loon

Alphabet is shutting down Loon, one of its "moonshots," which aimed to deliver internet service via high-altitude balloons.

Why it matters: The effort was one of several approaches designed to get high-speed connectivity to some of the world's most remote spots and proved useful in the aftermath of disasters that shut down traditional infrastructure.

Dave Lawler, author of World
43 mins ago - World

What has and hasn't changed as Biden takes over U.S. foreign policy

Photo Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

President Biden swiftly recommitted the U.S. to the Paris climate pact and the World Health Organization, but America's broader foreign policy is in a state of flux between the Trump and Biden eras.

Driving the news: One of the most striking moves from the Biden administration thus far was a show of continuity — concurring with the Trump administration's last-minute determination that China had committed "genocide" against Uyghur Muslims.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Health: New coronavirus cases down, but more bad news ahead — Fighting COVID-19's effects on gender equality.
  2. Politics: Biden unveils "wartime" COVID strategyBiden's COVID-19 bubble.
  3. Vaccine: NYC postpones vaccine appointments following shipment delays — Private companies step in to fill vaccine logistics vacuum.
  4. World: Biden will order U.S. to rejoin World Health OrganizationBiden to bring U.S. into global COVAX initiative for equitable vaccine access.

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