I feel compelled to comment on Amazon’s proposed takeover of Whole Foods because of the considerable research I have recently invested in online and conventional grocery shopping. We may have reached a critical mass in brick-and-mortar grocery shopping where a new generation is no longer committed long term to cashing, shelving, or preparing food. Jobs in this sector no longer pay enough to support a livelihood that represents a living wage. The real crisis comes in the fact that the anchor site – the mall – is becoming obsolete in terms of offering an ideal place to accommodate an expanding shopping experience. Case in point is that many urban grocery stores are now severing ties with malls as they seek a more stand-alone space to attract custom. New models include in-store restaurants and other boutique services. I am told that America is greatly oversubscribed by five to one in terms of unused retail space, with online shopping steadily increasing. So where does the future lie for this new phenomenon of grocery shopping online? Will we be seeing radical changes in how we receive our groceries each week? In a city setting, grocery purchases is not a big deal for those who live close by, are retired, and know their products. If you want an Amazon-kind delivery – food in an oversized box – you might be advised to know your product, not expect sales, and be prepared for some built-in delays in delivery. As for freshness, which is all relative anyway, technology is working on that one with the introduction of safer GMOs. Where I see the real change coming is in the critical bottleneck called the checkout. From my experience in the business, it has become an all-or-nothing, feast-or-famine dilemma. ┬áThe store I worked in had four peak times of two hour durations where ringing in sales was basically non-stop. On the side, for customer convenience, were ten self-checkouts that were only infrequently used, mainly by the younger set. Two things working against this innovation was that they lacked reliability and they could only do small orders that didn’t include discounts or specials. Most of the customers I talked to as they came through my checkout could not see the day coming when their 300 dollar order was being pushed through such expedited means. Many are still adjusting to paying five dollars for home -delivery, that most expensive last mile in getting food to the table. If Amazon succeeds in revolutionizing the retail food industry in terms of offering more discretionary choices to customers, it will come at a cost. Watch for a Prime delivery service where customers will have to pay an annual fee of a 100 dollars or more for food to be conveniently delivered to the door. That, my friends, is what this latest paradigm change is all about: finding ways to hold on to market share while shifting customers from failing malls to home-delivery. In between these two points are stops where smaller, upscale, boutique-style stores are being built to accommodate expensive tastes. Through this lengthy transition, grocery stores as we presently know them will never go away entirely; they will just get smaller as the monopolies grow and the competition shrinks.