Amazon may be forcing brick and mortar businesses to automate just to survive
There is a legitimate argument to be made that the rush towards automation for businesses like McDonalds, Lowe’s, and Best Buy are intrinsically tied to new government policies pushing forth an unaffordable $15 minimum wage. ¬†However, there may be an even greater need for brick and mortar businesses to replace human labor with automation and that is from the sheer need to get much leaner in order to survive in this new era of Amazon.
The¬†Wall Street Journal¬†published a headline today that should strike fear into the heart of every crusaders in the fight for $15:¬†‚ÄúRobots Are Replacing Workers Where You Shop.‚ÄĚ
As the story explains, Wal-Mart is replacing some of its non-customer facing workers with robots, like bookkeepers who were responsible for counting and storing the store’s cash supply.
Wal-Mart has a Cash360 machine in nearly all of its 4,700 US stores, eliminating thousands of jobs in what is yet another example of how automation will soon replace hundreds of thousands of jobs in the retail and food-service industries.¬†Previously, we reported on McDonald‚Äôs ‚ÄúExperience of the Future‚ÄĚ initiative, which one analyst calculates will lead to the¬†replacement of 2,500 cashiers¬†with self-order kiosks.
A Wal-Mart spokesman claims that most of these employees were moved into store jobs to improve service. But according to¬†WSJ,¬†more than 500 have left the company.¬†The store accountant is now a greeter at the front door, where she still earns $13 an hour.
Automation isn‚Äôt motivated, as some liberals believe, by a desire to squeeze every last penny of profit out of a business. In reality, automation could be brick and mortar retailers‚Äô last hope for survival. –¬†Zerohedge
It is very understandable for retail companies and restaurants to pay a lower wage to their workers because wages should always reflect the value these workers give to the business based on their skills and productivity rather than from some ideological and uneconomical belief that companies owe their workers a ‘living wage’. ¬†And this argument is completely a non-starter to begin with since the problem has never been about wages, but it is instead about the government and central bank’s actions which have led to a decline in the purchasing power of the U.S. currency.
Just yesterday, a new survey came out which showed that¬†Americans on average are no longer willing to pay more for ‘Made in America’, and are at the point where they will seek out the lowest cost for products no matter where they are manufactured, or who sells them. ¬†And it is this new reality which is helping Amazon to usurp the consumer base away from brick and mortar retail and is behind the push towards automating labor… not just as a cost cutting measure, but also as a means for survival.
Kenneth Schortgen Jr¬†is¬†a writer for¬†The Daily Economist,¬†Secretsofthefed.com,¬†Roguemoney.net, and¬†Viral Liberty, and hosts¬†the popular¬†youtube podcast¬†on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.¬†Ken can also¬†be heard Wednesday afternoons giving an weekly economic report on the¬†Angel Clark radio show.