The future of big box retail

Black Friday line
Shoppers lined up around the outside of the Best Buy store in Baxter, Minn., at 11 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 24, 2011. The store opened it's doors at Midnight this year instead of early Friday morning. Some of the shoppers had camped outside the stor for days waiting for bargains.
AP Photo/Brainerd Dispatch, Steve Kohls

Best Buy CEO Brian Dunn is stepping down from the nation's largest consumer electronics retailer, a company that has been largely criticized for not responding quickly enough to growing competition and the changing shopping habits of Americans.

Best Buy Co., based in Minneapolis, said Tuesday that it was a mutual decision, and that there were no disagreements with Dunn on any matter relating to operations, financial controls, policies or procedures.

As Best Buy grapples with the changing retail landscape with a new CEO, we look back at how consumer habits and American culture changed in the 50 years since Target, Wal-Mart, Kohl's and Kmart opened their doors.

Reporter Natalie Zmuda wrote about the anniversary for AdAge:

"Middle-class households were booming, and suburbs, as well as the first enclosed shopping malls, were catering to them. But savvy retailers were looking for ways to bring value to customers within a more profitable building footprint, according to Dan Butler, a VP at the National Retail Federation. Pioneers such as Walmart founder Sam Walton realized that people wanted value year-round, not just once a season when department stores cleared out merchandise."

Zmuda joined The Daily Circuit Tuesday to talk about the future of "big box" retail stores in the United States. Barbara Kahn, director of Jay H. Baker Retailing Center at the Wharton School, will also join the discussion.

"After 50 years of putting mom and pops out of business, big-box retail is having a mid-life crisis,"according to a recent Bloomberg article. "A slow economy has hurt same-store sales, narrowing margins at big stores. Meanwhile, consumers, armed with price-comparison technology, are visiting more stores seeking deals or exclusive merchandise rather than making one-stop, fill-the-cart excursions."

How will these "big box" businesses like Best Buy adapt in order to survive?

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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