Weekend Reading: Death of Retail Edition

It’s been a bad year for retail stores in Canada. Last week, Future Shop joined the ranks of Target, Sony Corp, Radio Shack, Mexx, and Smart Set, by abruptly closing 66 of its 131 stores (with plans to convert the remainder into Best Buy locations).

The “Amazon effect” is partly to blame, according to researchers, as Canadians now buy one-third of their electronics online. This struck me as ironic, as for years Future Shop famously tried to push its customers online.

The shift to online shopping must be even more problematic for electronics retailers, as they don’t get the chance to push extended warranties and up-sell other accessories like they do in-store.

I find myself shopping online more and more these days, taking advantage of my Amazon Prime membership to get free two-day shipping on pretty much everything. No pushy sales staff to avoid, plus I can read helpful reviews from people who actually bought the product, rather than listening to someone who just wants to earn a commission.

This week’s recap:

On Monday I had the chance to review The One-Page Financial Plan, a new book by Carl Richards. Carl was nice enough to send us two signed copies to give away to our readers. I used a random number generator to select the two winners:

  1. gcai – who left a comment on March 30th at 6:15pm
  2. M. – who left a comment on March 30th at 10:41am

Congratulations! I’ll be in touch with the winners this week and arrange to send out the books.

On Wednesday Marie shared some useful tips on how to deal with paper clutter.

And on Friday we published another Boomer & Echo financial makeover – living on a budget in an expensive city.

Over on Rewards Cards Canada I got a letter explaining how my Capital One Aspire Travel World MasterCard will be transitioned to the new World Elite MasterCard.

I also shared a few emails from readers about their continued frustration with the Aeroplan program.

Weekend Reading:

Speaking of Aeroplan, Patrick Sojka has five tips to avoid or mitigate fuel surcharges on award tickets.

Dan Wesley had a slight glitch on his return trip from New York and shares his story about getting compensated for a flight delay.

Michael James discusses how employees react to the possibility of getting fired.

Barry Choi guest posted at My Own Advisor and shared some crazy things people say about money.

Financial Uproar explains why small investors are screwed. Hey – those are my potential clients!

Along a similar theme, Ben Carlson asks – do young investors need a financial advisor?

Ron Lieber wrote a compelling piece in the New York Times as to why paying for financial advice makes sense.

This financial advisor explains why he believes banning commissions will ultimately hurt investors.

A long, but worthy read on how Vanguard’s new online advisory service is a big threat to the traditional financial advice industry.

An interesting read on why millennials are rejecting their parents’ treasures – like that old leather sofa.

One of the fallouts from the Alberta budget is the loss of small niche programs like the Alberta Centennial Education Savings Plan, or ACES Plan, which is shutting down later this year. The program contributed a $500 grant to the RESP of any child born after January 1st, 2005, plus an additional $100 when the child turned 8, 11, and 14.

Big Cajun Man shared a rant about setting up a student line of credit at National Bank. Should make for an interesting series.

Why do children need chores? Doing household chores has many benefits—academically, emotionally and even professionally.

Jason Hull explains why spending diets don’t work. Hint: It’s a slippery slope to “What the hell?” mentality.

Mr. Money Mustache continues his media rounds, this time he’s featured in the Globe and Mail talking about how to retire at age 30 (and stay retired).

And finally, April Fools’ Day is terrible but at least there’s one article I look forward to every year. Dan Bortolotti is back with a tale of Bender, the new Canadian Couch Potato robo-advisory service.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

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  1. Bigcajunman (AW) on April 4, 2015 at 8:09 am

    Thanks for the inclusion, my guess is this could get very interesting, as I found the application forms and the “Student Line of Credit” box is clearly “ticked”, so we did not sign any incorrect forms, but haven’t heard back from “Head office” either (I did tweet them, no response just yet).

  2. Dan @ Our Big Fat Wallet on April 4, 2015 at 8:16 am

    Thanks for the mention Robb, my flight delay wasn’t actually too bad and ended well; I feel bad for people who get stuck in an airport for 8+ hours due to weather, flight mixups, etc.

  3. Jason Hull on April 4, 2015 at 12:35 pm

    Thanks for the inclusion Robb!

  4. Sean Cooper, Financial Journalist on April 4, 2015 at 7:08 pm

    Future Shop closing was a total shock. I guess customers don’t mind buying electronics online (unlike clothing where most people like to try it on). Let’s hope Future Shop doesn’t screw over its suppliers like Target Canada did.

  5. My Own Advisor on April 5, 2015 at 6:18 am

    Thanks for the mention Robb and Happy Easter to you and family!

  6. Schultzter on April 5, 2015 at 10:46 am

    I think the “Amazon Effect” is a bit misleading. Sure, I buy most of my electronics on-line but mostly I’m buying accessories, which are often a tenth of the price Future Shop, et al would charge. For the big ticket items there’s little to no price advantage on-line, and given my past experience with bigger items I would rather pick them up myself – but we just don’t buy that many big ticket items (how often are you going to buy a TV vs. a USB cable?).

    I think what needs to happen is electronics retailers need rent space for manufacturer show-rooms. Like we’ve started seeing Microsoft, Apple, and Samsung counters in Best Buy, that needs to be expanded. Maybe a few items will be in-stock and sold over the counter, but mostly you’ll just go on-line and order it – either in-store with assistance or at home. This is how Dell kiosks work and they seem to be doing okay.

  7. Timo Kontkanen on April 5, 2015 at 1:35 pm

    And not to mention , the shake up that’s coming at the Beer Store.

  8. DivGuy on April 6, 2015 at 10:18 am

    Yes, it looks like retail stores are having a hard time… Customers are just not there. I’m afraid it is not only linked with buying online. The Canadian economy is not as healthy as many keep on believing.

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