• U.S.

Business: Funeral for the Living

1 minute read

The economists and experts held another noisy wake last week around the struggling corpse of the little retailer. Before the Murray Committee on Small Business the self-appointed mourners shook their heads and clucked sympathetically as they predicted the statistically inevitable demise of some 300,000 stores by the end of next year. Death, they said, will not be due to lack of customers, but to lack of goods and labor.

Wayne C. Taylor, Under Secretary of Commerce, estimated that about 1,400,000 workers will quit retailers and wholesalers for the Army and the war plants. Walter F. Crowder, chief of the Department’s Business Structure & Operations Unit, said the average small retailer “can’t realize what lies ahead, since most of them have fairly satisfactory supplies on hand, but replacement difficulties will be constantly greater from now on.” All this gloom got on the nerves of urbane Lew Hahn, general manager of National Retail Dry Goods Association and a patron saint of retailing. Said he indignantly: “The smaller merchant would like to know how to keep alive rather than how to have a fancy death.”

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