Technology is rapidly changing the retail industry, but for now the fears of an apocalyptic impact on brick-and-mortar stores seem overblown.
With Walmart, Target and many other mass retailers leveraging their physical stores to help them succeed with online customers as well as those that prefer to do their shopping in person, there is also no question that the retail landscape is changing.
Stores in many cases are getting smaller, even as they are increasingly functioning as pickup locations or fulfillment centers for online orders in addition to being places for customers to actually shop for and buy goods.
Retailers may also need fewer of these stores going forward. While a handful of retailers — Dollar General Corp. is a good example — continue to aggressively open new stores, many other chain’s have cut way back on their expansion plans, and are devoting their capital spending budgets to remodels or digital initiatives.
And of course the retailers who are failing to adapt to the changing shopping needs and preferences of today’s consumers are either shrinking or going out of business altogether.
Coresight Research’s store openings and closures tracker makes concrete how these trends are playing out in the real world.
The research firm, founded and led by Deborah Weinswig, recorded a total of 6,235 store closures and 4,111 openings by major retailers over the course of 2018.
In the closures column, the list was led by Toys ‘R’ Us, which announced in March that it would sell or shutter all 735 of its stores.
Sears Holdings Corp., which filed for bankruptcy last year, was also on the list, with 173 Sears and Kmart stores shuttered in 2018.
But it was not just struggling retailers that were high on the list compiled by Coresight Research. Walgreens was tied for second on the list, with 600 store closings. Best Buy, which has been cited as an example of a retailer that has successfully repositioned itself for the digital age, closed 275 stores.
Store closures can be strategic and are not always a sign of trouble. But while we are probably not headed toward a future of no stores, we may be headed to one where many successful retailers have fewer of them.