Economic Affairs: Robinsons and the future of retail

Old-style bricks-and-mortar retail is up against the power of AI and the Marie Kondo effect

ST ILLUSTRATION: MIEL

Watching the islandwide dismay and bewilderment over news that the iconic Robinsons will close its remaining department stores, marking a watershed moment for Singapore retail, one is reminded of a telling comment that appears in The Sun Also Rises, Ernest Hemingway's first major novel.

In that story, published in 1926, hard-drinking war veteran Mike Campbell, asked how he went bankrupt, responds: "Two ways. Gradually, then suddenly."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 04, 2020, with the headline 'Robinsons and the future of retail'. Print Edition | Subscribe