Colliers report debunks the myth of brick-and-mortar retail’s death

Not all retailers are struggling today.

by Dan Rafter

It’s easy when reading of the latest round of store closures to think that online shopping has already killed brick-and-mortar retailers. But a new retail spotlight from Colliers International says that physical stores aren’t quite dead yet.

The Colliers report instead argues that U.S. retail as a whole is actually performing well, despite the high-profile struggle of retailers such as Sears, Macy’s and Kmart.

This doesn’t mean that online shopping isn’t making a big impact on retailers. It just means that a growing number of retailers are learning how to incorporate both online and brick-and-mortar transactions into their business plans.

The Colliers report says that for this firstime online retail is forecast to account for more than $1 out of every $10 that consumers spend in 2017. But the report also says that even five years from now physical stores will still account for the vast majority of retail spending.

Consumers already have learned the benefits of shopping both from their computers and smart phones and at physical stores. Colliers says that consumers today shop seamlessly, using a combination of physical stores and online channels for everything from groceries to electronics to clothing. This means that physical stores are actually driving significantly more than the $3.2 trillion of spending that went directly through them in 2016, Colliers says.

And those retailers who are struggling to attract shoppers to their brick-and-mortar stores? The Colliers report says that those shoppers who have reduced their visits to physical stores say they’ve done so because these retail spaces are dull, uninspiring, hard to shop and rarely have new items on the shelves. They also offer poor customer service.

Retailers, then, who want to attract more shoppers to their physical stores have a blueprint to follow: Provide an experience at their locations that consumers can’t get online. Stock their shelves with new items at value prices. And provide expert-level customer service.

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