Brick-and-Mortar Retailers Must Reinvent Themselves To Survive The Shift To Online Shopping


by George Cook, The Conversation

Department stores and other brick-and-mortar retailers registered another lackluster holiday shopping season, while online sales have remained upbeat since Cyber Monday. As more consumers spend a larger share of their dollars online, does this signal the days of shopping at department stores and shopping malls are numbered?



Cyber Monday sales this year were up 8.7% compared with 2013, led by a sharp increase in mobile transactions according to IBM Digital Analytics Benchmark. Sales over mobile devices jumped 29%. That’s a sharp contrast with the mostly bad news for brick-and-mortar stores, which saw about 6 million fewer shoppers over the Thanksgiving weekend, with overall spending down about 11%, according to the National Retail Federation.

One can reminisce about the days when department stores and mega-malls were among the main places for Americans to meet, socialize and, of course, shop. Spending an afternoon at the big downtown department stores used to be a family treat during the holiday shopping season. The experience eventually evolved more into trips to the mall – which were typically anchored by a major department store or two.

That’s all changed. We have certainly witnessed in recent years a pronounced uptick in terms of consumers doing their shopping online and through various mobile devices and applications. That’s the trend, but does it really mean people will shop exclusively on these devices in the not-too-distant future? Are we in the final days of a major retail shopping shakeup that will eventually make department and other physical stores a thing of the past?

Woolworth’s was an iconic downtown department store that symbolizes its status in American life back in the day. The national chain went out of business in 1997. Voici Montréal-This is Montreal/Flickr via CC BY-SACC BY-SA


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Carol W 4 years ago Contributor's comment

$AMZN cmon..NYC? it's just BEZOS ego flexing.He wants to be on the busiest corner on the planet..34th and fifth.EMPIRE SB no less! Just using the store as a billboard to push AMZN presence. thought it was a pickup center vs real retail like BBY.

Don't talk to me about Woolworths..I LIVED there as a