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Our expert voices conversation about the death of retail.

What has always been clear is that if companies do not invest in their workers they will fail in the marketplace – just like J.C. Penny and American Apparel.

A face-to-face, human experience is always going to have a place in retail if companies want to survive a shift to online sales. We see it at Bloomingdale's 59th Street and Macy's Herald Square. These are internationally famous tourist destinations that are hugely profitable, making up nearly 9 percent of Macy's sales alone, and their knowledgeable and experienced retail workers are a big part of their continued success. These workers are the face of the stores, and by extension, the face of the company.

Consumers can't get this experience by shopping online, and they'll continue to come to these brick-and-mortar stores – even if they end up buying online. It's an experience they'll never be able to duplicate by filling up their Amazon shopping cart. Nor will these iconic companies ever be able to compete on pricing in the online marketplace.

Bottom line: We don't see a death of retail stores, but a reconfiguration. Consumers will always need products, and brands will always need storefronts for visibility and to satisfy customers' need to touch and feel products for quality and fit. What we've actually seen is a growth in fulfillment jobs, many of which come with higher wages, but that still don't give workers a voice.

Other voices in the conversation:

Go deeper

Officials warn 5 key tech sectors will determine whether China overtakes U.S.

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

U.S. intelligence officials responsible for protecting advanced technologies have narrowed their focus to five key sectors: artificial intelligence, quantum computing, biotechnology, semiconductors and autonomous systems.

Why it matters: China and Russia are employing a variety of legal and illegal methods to undermine and overtake U.S. dominance in these critical industries, officials warned in a new paper. Their success will determine "whether America remains the world’s leading superpower or is eclipsed by strategic competitors."

3 hours ago - Health

Pfizer says COVID vaccine over 90% effective in kids

A health care worker preparing a Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine dose in New York City on Oct. 21. Photo: Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

Pfizer and BioNTech said their COVID-19 vaccine was more than 90% effective at protecting children between the ages of 5 and 11 from symptomatic infections from the virus, according to a study posted online by the Food and Drug Administration Friday.

Why it matters: Pfizer is seeking an emergency use authorization to vaccinate children — one of the last groups of Americans still largely ineligible to receive a coronavirus vaccine.

Changing the inflation conversation

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Inflation looks like it’ll run hot for longer than plenty of smart people thought it would. The conversation over just how much more Americans will have to pay for their stuff has taken on a new intensity, as supply problems show few signs of fading.

Why it matters: The rate of price growth has remained consistently strong in recent months — a time that some thought would bring cooling prices after an initial reopening spike. What goes on with prices will influence the decisions made by Congress, the Biden Administration, and the Federal Reserve.