The future of retail in the age of Amazon

Fast Company:

Despite Wall Street’s pessimism, industry leaders sound downright bullish on the future of traditional retail.

What we’re seeing now, industry executives say, is a rational, albeit painful, course correction. One study from retail-research firm IHL Group found that a mere 16 chains, including Radio­Shack and Payless, account for nearly half of all store closings, and that there will be a net increase of more than 4,000 stores in 2017 and 5,500-plus in 2018.

While it feels like “everyone” is shopping online and retail is on its death bed, this story says it’s not as bad as what it may seem.

I may be an outlier but I still like going to the mall (on occasion) and walking around, if only for the people watching.



  • DanielSw

    I think Apple’s modern approach to retail under Angela’s leadership is quite refreshing and encouraging—including their new policy of deleting the word “store” from their locations.

    Apple Michigan Avenue is a shining new example, as well as the new Visitor Center at Apple Park.

    Apple International Plaza in Tampa, Florida, has been my go-to place since its opening as #8 or 9 over a decade ago. Literally every time I’ve visited over the years, it’s been busy and buzzing with people and activity.

    I’d say Apple got retail right from the outset of their own shops. And now they’re well-poised to evolve into newer an better assets for new and existing customers.

    Some are skeptical of Apple Park and its $6B price tag. But I say that’s a mere drop in the bucket against quarterly revenue and profits, and it’s well worth the investement to augment its ability to administer its ever-expanding global presence.

    Apple’s (as well as Apple’s customers’) future is bright!

  • davebarnes

    I may be an outlier, but I still hate going to the mall at any time. I don’t like going to a store that is larger than a few hundred sqft.

  • rick gregory

    Something online can’t do is satisfy two needs. One is to simply get out and be among people. The other is to evaluate what one wants by seeing it, touching it, etc. And some people like to browse. I miss record and CD stores for that – “Oh, So and So has a new album out? Huh…”. Bookstores too since I mostly read ebooks but I can still GO to those.

    Clothes? You can try things on.

    • Mo

      Agreed on all of this, but many online clothing retailers offer free shipping on returns.

      • rick gregory

        Yeah. If you know what you want or have a good idea, that works. I understand that’s more popular among 20-somethings too. Will be interesting to see if that habit persists into their 30s and beyond or not.

        • Mo

          It’s also vital for people who are hard to fit, and whose local retailers are lacking. Even chains that feature odd sizes of a certain product won’t always keep a full range in stock.

  • I mostly buy things online I can’t get quickly locally, although I’ve also ordered things online that I need that I just keep forgetting to buy for weeks and weeks.

  • GlennC777

    I’ve been a defender of physical stores all along. For every Kohls or JC Penney one might bring up I can counter with a Costco or a Kroger. We own stock in exactly two companies: Apple and Best Buy, both long-term holds at this point. Like Rick said, for the most part people want to see, touch and physically compare things before buying; and shopping in-person is not an experience that’s going away. Amazon is a convenient alternative but only for a fraction of most peoples’ purchasing activities.

  • brisance

    I dislike crowds and the thought of having to fight for parking space makes me ill. Time that can be put to more productive use. Specialty retail or those focusing on customer services such as Apple are not going away though.