Thanks for posting this. I've been collecting for about 20 years, and there is no question that there has been a decline in the "fun" factor, especially with the loss of Toys R Us. Biggest issue I and some friend run into is simply availability of product. Yes, there are scalpers, etc., but the stores just don't manage the product well. For example, we saw multiple cases of the first Avengers (Marvel Legends) wave from earlier this year but have yet to see a single case from what I can tell at any retailer near me. And this past holiday season was bizarre. Usually that's the one time of year you can guarantee that product will be hitting the shelves, but the three stores nearest me ALL got old product from earlier in the year and even last year. So they get multiple cases of product for a market that is essentially saturated. In the last 12 - 18 months, I can't tell you how many series of figures seem to have skipped this city entirely.
Everyone gripes about brick-and-mortar stores going away, but the stores are doing it to themselves. (Example: Walmart and Target randomly not getting even their own exclusives into their physical stores.) I used to know that my stores would get product. Now it's 50/50 at best, so I'm forced to pre-order from online stores, which is something I NEVER did (except for online exclusives) until the last two years.
I will say that price must play a big role in sales though as well. Walmart near me knocked all the Marvel Legends on the pegs down to about half price in the last week or so, and most of them disappeared in a flash.