Start Up Blog

Top 10 dying industries

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on April 5, 2011

The good people at Ibis World just released a report on which industries are facing the biggest declines. You can probably guess a few of them, and the major culprit behind the decline is another mainstay of change: Technological Development. The numbers are from the US economy over the past decade, but I think it’s a fair representation of what is occurring in most first world developed economies.

So while you peruse the list, have a think about the incumbents and if they saw it coming or were in denial. Also have a think about where technology is taking us and if you can be a driving force behind flipping an existing industry on it’s head with your new startup! Enjoy.

1. Apparel Manufacturing

Has declined by 77% over the past decade. Simple reason. Cost of wages in labour intensive industry.

2. Music Stores

In the past decade almost 80% of all music stores have closed down in the USA. Sales recorded music sold on a physical transportable device (Tapes, CD’s, LP’s et al) have declined 76.3% in the past 10 years. The only chance for survival is to be very niche, like some ‘drive in cinemas’ have done. even cultural icons, like Tower Records below have succumbed to the inevitable. If you look closely at the pic below, you might even see the who was behind it all…

3. Manufactured Home Dealers

Declined by over 70% in the past decade. Who knew?

4. Photo development

Photo finishing faced a 69% decline, which digital photography is entirely responsible for. Facebook and Flickr are quickly replacing the photo album, and Kodak got caught napping as this happened. The truth is that 1 hour is still 59 minutes and  59 seconds slower than digital. The question is whether the increasing level of awesomeness of cameras in mobile phones will make stand alone digital cameras redundant?


5. Wired Communications

Wired telecoms declined by 54.9% since the year 2000. The evidence exists with how many people you know who’ve ‘turned off’ their fixed line connection. Long distance and overseas has equally been decimated by Skype which comes at peoples favourite price point – ‘free’ – with the added benefit of video. It’s pretty clear that I life without wires is better than a life with them.


6. Mills

Manufacturing suffered a 50% decrease. Seems they are closing all the factories down in Allan Town – as 23% have closed down since 2000. It’s a pretty simple formula here as reduced trade barriers and low wage markets have concocted this reality.


7. Newspaper Publishing

You’re reading this on-line, and you probably get most of your news the same way. Hence it isn’t a great surprise that newspaper publishing has declined 35.9% in the past decade. What’s really interesting is that most of us consume more news and content than ever before, we just get it in different places from different people. The problem with most publishers is that they confuse the delivery mechanism (the physical publishing) with why they actually exist. Granted, lower barriers to deliver any form information has made the old model almost impossible to maintain. I’d also argue that the pay walls being put up by Rupert Murdoch and the New York Times won’t cut it when valid substitutes are ‘free’.


8. DVD, Game & Video rental

A percentage decrease of 35.7% which is easy to see as local video & DVD rental stores close down. The on-line alternative is simply superior. Enough said.


9. Formal Wear & Costume rental

A curious one as this industry has declined by 35%. Most probably a combination of reduced prices for textiles in general and the casualisation of dress throughout society.


10. Video Post Production

With standard simple digital manipulation tools on our desk top, services of this nature have been hurt. They’ve declined by 24.9% in the past decade. Only the very high end have survived.

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