As SA clothing retail icon Edcon battles to stave off collapse, it is worth looking at what is happening on the global retail front, to see if that offers any clues as to its chances of survival. To recap, just before Christmas the media broke a story of an Edcon turnaround plan that involved asking its landlords to take a massive rent reduction in exchange for a modest stake in the business. It is not yet clear if that plan has met with any success. The stakes are high and if Edcon doesn’t manage to pull off some type of turnaround plan and does fold, then about 14,000 employees will lose their jobs. SA already has the highest persistent rate of unemployment of any country in the world and can ill-afford job losses on this scale. Looking at the big picture, the global outlook for retailers remains poor. Only those players with a robust online strategy will survive, and “bricks & mortar” or traditional retailers that have not fully embraced technology will eventually go to the wall....

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