America’s Changing Shopping Habits

It’s not unusual these days to hear of major retail chains filing for bankruptcy or selling off assets and closing shop. But the pace those announcements are hitting the media is staggering.

An ongoing trend, and one that directly relates to the decline of brick-and-mortar retail, is the decline of shopping malls.

Though the malls might still be crowded places during holidays and busy shopping seasons, the Wall Street Journal has an fascinating graphic that shows the various companies that have vanished from malls (or existence) over the years and how the continued loss of stores inside of malls has contributed to what are more like skeletons than malls today.

It’s not all bad news. Some mall properties have been repurposed for other uses. BizVoice® magazine in 2013 looked at new uses for empty malls.

But don’t place all the blame on online shopping. This Forbes article from September asserts that, contrary to what you might think, there will be more store openings than closings this year and more due to changing consumer habits (not just online shopping).

More people seek discount and convenience, as well as experiences (food, travel, etc.) over physical items, than before. From the Forbes article:

Consumers haven’t gone into hiding and they’re not spending less. They’re spending more and there are more new stores — but tastes have changed. One of the most important things about these changes is that they are happening faster than ever before. There’s lots of reasons for that and plenty to debate about it but there’s no way to avoid the constant adaptation that’s now required. Organizations now need to be able to process new ideas at a rate that’s faster and more efficient than ever before. If you’re a legacy retailer of any kind, it’s hard to change quickly enough and that creates an opening for more nimble competitors. It’s not enough just to have something new, it has to keep evolving. That’s a challenge both for younger companies as well as the established players and it will be for the foreseeable future.

Recovering Journalist Outlines Future of Newspaper Industry

Came across an interesting blog called Recovering Journalist. As a recovering journalist and editor myself, I found it noteworthy. After all, if you love making no money, all the while wondering which of society’s finest you’re about to get an irate phone call from, then journalism is the profession for you! (My recruitment pitch needs work, I know.)

But this post discusses the future of the industry and what we may see in the coming year in order to improve profitability for newspapers nationwide. Here are some highlights (or lowlights). For further detail, read the full post:

  • More downsizing
  • More bankruptcies
  • Death of two-newspaper towns
  • Reduced publishing frequency
  • Better Web/print balance
  • Sharing, clustering and consolidation
  • Outright closings

Regarding the Web/print balance, reporting veteran Mark Potts contends:

Forward-thinking papers will do a better job of making their Web sites stand as solid alternatives to the print product, and may reduce the size of the print edition as an alternative to shutting certain days. This goes double, at least, for advertising: Newspaper sites need to get much smarter about Web advertising, to make the Web edition a much more robust contributor to revenue (and a more realistic replacement for lost print revenue). That involves going way beyond the banner ad to make real strides in contextual ads, search ads, targeted ads, non-traditional revenue sources, premium services and, especially, stepping up efforts to sell to small local advertisers that large newspapers traditionally have ignored.