By Kyle Olson
The past few years have been rough for the camera industry.
First, famed film company Kodak filed for bankruptcy protection after dismal sales and failing to capitalize on the digital trend that encompasses the camera business as of late.
According to the Washington Post, Ritz Camera & Image filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last week.
The filing marks the company’s second bankruptcy filing.
It was only three years ago that the company, founded in 1936, emerged from its last bankruptcy.
As physical retail shops lose ground to online shopping dynamos such as Amazon and EBay, it has become harder for retailers such as Ritz Camera to compete.
Although online shopping is one large component to Ritz’s slumping sales, there are many other variables that are continuing to cripple the camera and film industry.
For one, cell phone cameras have now become so advanced that people aren’t buying, or even using, stand-alone digital cameras.
Another nail in the coffin of the camera industry is the ease in which photos can be shared and printed. As printers and social media dominate society’s landscape, physical film and digital prints from retail stores have suffered tremendously.
Despite the grim outlook, sales at Ritz in May were up 20 percent. Unfortunately it was too little to late as the company decided to file for bankruptcy on Friday.
Ritz Camera & Image, as a part of the newly minted restructuring, plans to cut its 265 stores to 137 and chop its employee numbers in half; from 2,000 to 1,000, this according to the Washington Post.
According to the filing, the company has between $50 million and $100 million in liabilities and assets.
Ritz was a lucrative company specializing in selling cameras and processing film. As the years continued into the new millennium, the growing digital market of photography hit sales hard.
As recent as 2009, the company was in debt to the tune of $60 million.
Innovated, Adjust, or Get Left In The Dust
As the digital age continues to pave new ground in almost every industry imaginable, many companies are forced with tough decisions.
Some failed to recognize the shift in their respective industry and deemed the digital and technological boom as a fad, according to experts.
The camera and film industry was no different.
Some companies are at a crossroads in their history. Should they stick to the proven, profitable plan that may be obsolete in a few years, or should companies risk life and limb on new technologies that seem to be at the forefront of modern business?
It’s a tough call but, as the experts point out, the numbers don’t lie. Many consumers tell a tale through their spending (or lack thereof), and the consumers are sending a clear message.
Either companies become the change agents that dictate future success of their industry or fall by the wayside by sticking to time-honored traditions.
As technologies advance, experts warn that companies must advance at the same speed to keep up with the industry and competitors alike.