The younger generation may or may not know this, but at one time there were hundreds of video stores across the country called Blockbuster. On a Friday or Saturday night, it was common for people to go to Blockbuster and rent a VHS movie in a way that was similar to how one checks out a book at the library. When VHS tapes became obsolete, Blockbuster began stocking their shelves with DVDs. And when DVDs eventually became obsolete, so too did Blockbuster. In its place came video streaming services like Netflix and Hulu, which allow users to select movies over the Internet from the comfort of their own living rooms.
Much in the same way, department stores and similar shopping facilities may very well become obsolete as well, considering the growing popularity and convenience of online retailers like Amazon. As a matter of fact, over the past decade and a half, there has been a dramatic increase in the number of e-commerce sales, and a gradual decline in the number of sales made at department stores. In 2011, online sales officially surpassed sales made in department stores. Today, e-commerce stores are bringing in over $100 billion quarterly, and department store sales have dipped below $40 billion. The reason for this ongoing trend is obvious – why get in your car and travel to the store when you can simply find everything you need on the internet from the comfort of your home?
But the pending extinction of the department store isn’t exactly something that we should be celebrating. A world dominated by e-commerce retailers requires certain elements of society to remain intact, such as the electric grid and access to the Internet. What would happen if, God forbid, North Korea launched an EMP strike on the United States and took down our electric grid, instantly putting millions of Americans in a survival situation? Without department stores and without access to sites like Amazon, even the most basic products needed to survive will become incredibly difficult to obtain (RELATED: Read about a few everyday items that can be used for survival and prepping.)
Considering the circumstances, the scenario described above isn’t just some kind of wild conspiracy theory. Many experts fear that foreign leaders like Kim Jung Un of North Korea will strike the U.S. with an electromagnetic pulse attack, which would essentially send our country back to the stone age. Online shopping on websites like Amazon would be impossible due to the fact that there would be no electricity and no connection to the Internet. Furthermore, a lack of department stores would mean that people wouldn’t be able to pull products off the shelves like they normally would in a survival situation.