A friend of ours was talking about the empty big box stores flooding the city and of course other parts of the US. He asked the question that many are asking “who is going to fill those spaces”?
People still leave their homes to shop and explore but many times the items that they end up purchasing don’t come home in a shopping bag but are delivered by UPS during the week to their front door. What kind of experiences that make money will draw people to stores?
I have long thought about shopping experiences that draw me in. They are either highly curated stores that I can discover such as Colette (sadly closed) or The Story (recently sold to Macy’s). Others that I shop in carry exactly what I want and I have a relationship with them. These all have intimate settings. Will there be stores that carry everything for the family including art, classes, restaurants and a concierge to fill those big spaces? Maybe but not enough to fill all those empty storefronts.
Bottom line is retailers have to make enough of a profit to rent the spaces and bring home some cash otherwise it doesn’t work. Eventually, rents will come down as supply-demand is the backbone of all economies. Over time, new brands and new thought leaders will be the face of these empty storefronts with new concepts.
Technology has touched every industry. People still long for getting out of their homes, socializing through experiences and that includes going to a museum, seeing a movie or shopping. That isn’t going to change. What is going to change is how we shop, where we shop and what the experience is going to be like. It will change the number of jobs needed to run these new shops, the rent, the lease, what is sold and the entire experience. That is the long tail of e-commerce as much as it is changing for a new generation.