The bailout may have stopped the bell tolling on Edgars, the store that first opened its doors in Johannesburg's central business district 90 years ago, but structural shifts in retail in this century may be drawing a final curtain on SA's biggest fashion retailer. Globally, the big-box retailing format is dying, and though SA may lag behind those developments in Western markets, its trajectory is the same as the Amazons of the world peer into the local market. Edgars has followed the department store concept since inception in 1929 and, before its most recent lifeline, its future resembled that of Stuttafords, which, after its 159 years of existence, shut its doors two years ago, its struggles exacerbated by debt overload. The closure of Stuttafords echoed a worldwide shift by shoppers to e-commerce. In what has been dubbed the Amazon era, it is survival of the fittest in the sector. With the pervasive growth of the online retail space, shoppers are being left with little reason to...

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