Written by Nikki Baird, Forbes
There are debates back and forth about whether or not there is a “retail apocalypse”. It’s hard to argue with the number of store closings, even if they are offset by a number of store openings. So when people do argue the point, it’s more about whether this is the “end of retail” or just a major restructuring that will lead to a new, reimagined retail.
Personally, I come down more towards the latter. This is a restructuring. Unless we decide we need to go back to subsistence farming and bartering with our neighbors, our society doesn’t work without retail. Online, offline, omnichannel – I can’t specialize my labor into the tech industry and expect to feed and clothe my family unless there are retail stores that can sell me food and clothing, at a minimum.
It doesn’t change the fact that the numbers sound very challenging on the surface. In April, Thasos, a data analytics firm, released an analysis that showed that mall traffic, after moving back into positive territory briefly in July-December 2018, is back into year-over-year declines. They further found that experiential retailers like Apple, Eataly, or Tesla aren’t enough to reverse the declines. And just investing in additional entertainment destinations like movie theaters or more unique experiences like Legoland or Dave & Busters may not be enough either.