retail news in context, analysis with attitude

by Kevin Coupe

There are a couple of city-oriented stories to which I want to draw your attention this morning…

First, Business Insider reports that there is another city that wants to get into the Hunger Games-style competition to be Amazon’s second headquarters city.

Seattle. Which also happens to be the home of its first headquarters.

According to the story, “Bruce Harrell, during his recent short-lived role as mayor of Seattle, signed an executive order stating the city's intent to compete for Amazon's second headquarters.”

The story notes that Seattle has good reason to make a bid - Amazon says that it will invest $5 billion in what it calls HQ2, and will hire some 50,000 employees. More than a hundred states and communities are said to be preparing proposals.

However, the story also notes that a successful bid by Seattle - which is at best extremely unlikely - could be “ truly cataclysmic.” While Amazon has driven a lot of growth in Seattle, that growth also has led to gridlock, traffic, and near-unaffordable housing prices.

What this particular story doesn’t say is that a lot of people think that Seattle’s political and governing class long has been a little ambivalent about Amazon, which is part of the reason it is seeking a second headquarters city. (I have another theory about this. I wonder if it is at least possible that Jeff Bezos figures that inevitably his company will be broken up, and so it makes sense to have a second headquarters so that a physical spinoff is even easier. Just wondering…)

The second story actually is an editorial from the New York Daily News, which excoriates Mayor Bill de Blasio for wanting to attract Amazon’s HQ2 to New York while simultaneously doing everything he can to prevent Walmart from opening stores in the city because it threatens mom-and-pop stores.

Amazon, the piece says, is “as big a threat to mom-and-pops, if that’s your barometer, as Walmart ever was. Accounting now for 43% of online sales, Amazon is snatching dollars consumers used to spend at brick-and-mortar bookstores, drug stores, hardware stores, you name it.” Sure, Amazon will hire lots of people, “but de Blasio is fooling himself if he thinks they’re on a dramatically different wage-and-benefit plane than Walmart’s.”

It is, the Daily News writes, good that “de Blasio recognizes the brilliant Amazon opportunity, warts and all. Also too bad that low-income city shoppers who could have used a Walmart price break never got the chance.”

Eye-Openers, I think.
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