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comment by goobster
goobster  ·  1065 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: The Retail Apocalypse is not happening because of the Internet, it's because of debt

I have a semi-related question...

I rarely buy products at the "retailers" mentioned in these articles. I generally buy stuff directly from the producer.

In fact, I just spent $60 buying Sugru from their web site. It should be here Thursday or Friday.

Sugru is also available, and in stock, at the Target store that is 2 miles from my house.

But it would NEVER occur to me to purchase it at Target. I want to spend that money with the people who actually make the product. I realize this is true for many of the things I own... the Corbin seat on my motorcycle, the windshield on my motorcycle, my Ernie Ball guitar pedal, the Bongo bluetooth speaker, and my LSTN headphones, and my Native Union bamboo iPhone case.

Do I buy Hanes underwear from Target? No. I buy the Duluth Trading Company ones from their web site.

Etc, etc, etc.

Bear with me... I'm getting to the point...

Telephone polls are often quoted as the gospel about how the American public feels. However, telephone polls are ONLY conducted with houses with a landline. I cannot name a single friend of mine who owns a home, and has a landline. Therefore, nobody I know are represented in nationally-quoted phone polls.

THE POINT: Is it likely that MY retail purchases - and those retail purchases by other people like me - go completely unrecorded in these graphs you post?

How do they track Sugru's sales? Or Native Union? Or Duluth Trading Company?

Or are they simply polling Sears and Target and WalMart and extrapolating their numbers from these (flawed and incomplete) data sets?


kleinbl00  ·  1065 days ago  ·  link  ·  

None of the information here is from polls. It's from SEC information statements and public filings. A privately-held company does not need to disclose revenue and expense information. Try figuring out the profit margins of In'n'Out burger sometime.

That said, landline-only polls have been deprecated for the most part. Half of adults don't have one. Pew incorporates landlines at 25%.

It does raise an interesting point, though - if you are buying online, you have no real need for Amazon. The only thing Amazon gets you is an ecosystem. If every vendor on the planet had a collective bargaining agreement with shippers and a shared marketplace where you could find their products, nobody would need to bother with Amazon.

Which is exactly why Amazon Marketplace exists.

As far as retail, don't forget the very real value of showcasing. Not everything can be bought sight-unseen. Not everything comes down to specs and word of mouth. Some stuff you have to see in person before you can buy it, which is a very real reason stores still exist.

Walmart is now within a third of a percent of Amazon's prices.

goobster  ·  1063 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Ok. Right. Private companies do not report their earnings to the SEC, so the only data the SEC has to go on to generate these graphs is by publicly traded companies.

So that's less than 4,000 companies, if you take the total number of companies listed on the NYSE and NASDAQ.

There are 30 million companies registered in the USA.

~22 million of those are sole proprietorships.

That leaves 8 million companies with 2 or more employees. That means payroll, accounting, etc. Going from sole prop to having employees is a HUGE leap, that incurs enormous costs and is not undertaken lightly.

So cut that number in half just to cut out the outliers, and you get 4 million companies that have more than one employee, have payroll, corporate taxes, etc.

Today, I expect the 4000 listed public companies are worth a large portion of the GDP. But it doesn't take a large increase in sales for 4 million companies to have a major impact on the GDP. And that impact isn't being measured effectively today... so where is the tipping point?

Cargill ($120b), Koch Industries ($115b), State Farm ($71b), Albertsons ($58b), Mars ($33b), Publix ($32b), and several other private companies are already making big, significant, needle-moving money, and not reporting it to the SEC....

I wonder where that tipping point is? When does private business become a significant measure, and how do we measure it? As markets move away from the big boxes to more local providers, this could really affect these types of graphs.

kleinbl00  ·  1063 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Less than 4,000 if you're only talking about retail. Quora thinks 715,000 retail establishments, of which 315k with less than 5 employees so round 'bout 300k retail firms of any size. $3.8T in sales, 15m employees.

Not sure what the point is here but there's the numbers.

goobster  ·  1062 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    Not sure what the point is here but there's the numbers.

I'm thinking that the numbers we use to measure the health of our economy are only looking at publicly traded companies. At some point - now? soon? next year? ten years? - publicly traded companies will not be the majority of the economy, and therefore will be poor indicators of America's economic health.

In fact, looking at the list of the top 10 privately held companies, I'd argue that we may be at that point now. The US economy is worth about $18 trillion dollars, and privately held companies are worth about $5 trillion today.

That means that 27% of our current economic activity is not represented in the graphs you presented earlier in this thread. (And in the data used by economists and government officials to measure the health of the US economy.)

How do we improve our measurements and forecasting, if 27% of the money flowing around our economy is not measured/tracked like it is for publicly traded companies? How valuable are our current measurements, and how long can we pretend they are meaningful when they fail to account for such a large portion of our GDP?