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Amazon is buying Whole Foods in a stunning move that gives it hundreds of stores across the U.S. – giving the internet giant a brand-new laboratory for radical retail experiments that could revolutionize the way people buy groceries. (June 16)
AP

Ah, Amazon. It started with books, added apparel and now has disrupted supermarkets and even places that sell motor oil and windshield wiper blades.

Amazon makes none of the products it sells. But home delivery of goods ordered from its web site has made Amazon a high-tech success story, while regular merchants, who have invested in stores and distribution depots, have withered under Amazon bargain prices.

The latest sector facing disruption – auto parts stores.

Since Amazon pushed this year into the $48 billion-in-annual-sales sector, stock prices of the Big Four auto-parts merchants have skidded.

Falling share price

Before its meteoric rise stalled in December, Memphis-based AutoZone Inc.’s stock more than doubled in value between 2012 and 2016, reaching nearly $790 per share.

America’s aging car fleet powered the surge. Cars aren’t any younger, though the stock has shed a quarter of its value in a year. O’Reilly Automotive Inc. of Springfield, Mo., is down about 23 percent. Advance Auto Parts Inc. of Roanoke, Va., has given up 34 percent of its value.

Genuine Parts Co. of Atlanta has retreated only about 7 percent, holding on partly due to its market share in crowded East Coast states and the loyalty of professional mechanics to its NAPA brand.

Executives at the Big Four point to a mild winter and summer across North America as the reason many of their 17,000 stores have under-performed. But many stock traders point to a second reason.

There’s that…