Expert: Retail sales are not disappearing, just changing

Kim Glovas
December 13, 2019 - 6:41 pm
A retail store that has shut down.

Kim Glovas/KYW Newsradio

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Shopping centers that used to be the hub of activity for many communities are looking more like ghost towns these days. But one expert on retail trends says that doesn't mean brick and mortar buildings are going out of style. 

You've seen shopping centers with store fronts plastered with "For Sale" signs, listing a commercial realtor. The closed stores often outnumber the open ones. 

"Once upon a time, shopping was fun," said Swee Lim Chia, a marketing professor at LaSalle University.

However, Chia says shopping in stores isn't going out of style, it's just changing.

"There are real opportunities for retailers that are creating that fun shopping experience. And this is not a new concept, but this concept of experiential retail is where the opportunities are," Chia added. 

Some cynics say the internet will be the downfall of the retail store, but Chia says the percentage of goods sold online — about 11% — is still only a fraction of what is sold in stores. 

"Online stores cannot duplicate that. Online shopping cannot create that experience for the consumer, that's the premium, right?" he said. 

Chia says people want to not just shop; they want to eat dinner, visit art galleries, and have fun all at the same location.  

He says pop-up stores are also gaining traction because these stores that trade in fun are on location for a short period of time and then disappear.