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The debate over the 'death of retail'

Rebecca Zisser / Axios

If you ask almost anyone whether the world of retail has utterly changed, they'd probably say, "heck, yes." Since 2007, the share of e-commerce sales has nearly tripled, while several iconic brick-and-mortar stores, like Circuit City and Sports Authority, have disappeared from the landscape. Others, like Sears and Macy's, are conducting massive layoffs.

Economists especially look at retail and see a stagnant industry that has failed to adopt new technologies and become more efficient. In fact, according to an analysis by McKinsey, between 2005 and 2015 there has been no growth whatsoever in retail productivity. And while e-commerce does thrive on technological advances, it has failed, unlike previous waves of innovation, to enrich the nations where it's used.