How overworked Americans killed RadioShack

RadioShackGetty ImagesA RadioShack store in Falls Church, Virginia.

RadioShack is well on its way to oblivion.

The retailer filed for bankruptcy and is closing thousands of stores. Its brand partner Sprint will overhaul many locations, meaning few RadioShack stores as we know them will exist.

Many people have blamed RadioShack’s demise on the popularity of the e-commerce giant Amazon. Critics of the brand say it was too outdated and slow to offer new merchandise.

But Christopher Mims at The Wall Street Journal suggests overworked Americans are actually the reason RadioShack failed.

“In 1979 the average worker put in 1,687 hours a year, according to the Economic Policy Institute, and by 2007 that number was 1,868,” Mims writes. “The net difference, 181 hours a year, represents more than a month of extra work every year.”

RadioShack peaked in the 1970s, when Americans had more leisure time.

Charles Tandy, who bought RadioShack’s first nine stores, said in a 1963 interview with The New York Times that the chain would help Americans fill their free time.

“The shorter workweek, human curiosity, idle hands — all offer opportunities in this business. Everyone’s spare time is our challenge,” he said.

Today, many Americans are too busy for the hobbies that made RadioShack billions, Mims writes. They would also rather replace electronic devices instead of taking the time to repair them.

“How did we arrive at a culture of disposable everything? The simplest answer is that we no longer have time for anything else,” he says.

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