Big name store closings continue to rattle the retail industry.
From the iconic Toys R’ US, to giant Sears and Kmart, retailers are shutting their doors in the face of financial woes.
“I grew up on Toys R’ Us. It’s unfortunate,” said Julius Aguas.
“It’s very depressing. Yeah, it just seems like there are more and more,” said Elaine Blackwood.
According to retail experts, more than a dozen major department store chains, mattress sellers and shoe companies filed for bankruptcy protection in 2018, despite strong consumer spending that otherwise lifted the U.S. economy.
Shoppers who spoke with NBC Connecticut believe something has to give.
“I think retail is going to have to change its face,” said Blackwood.
“Online shopping is more convenient and it makes it harder for people to go out to shop,” added Aguas.
Professor John Clapp with The University of Connecticut’s Center for Real Estate says online sales account for only 9 percent of total sales and thinks this could be the end of an era for giant retailers.
“I think that we’re in the middle of an endgame strategy or an endgame process that’s unfolding in retail,” said Clapp.
Clapp blames the potential downward spiral of retail on overbuilding.
“It’s really not enough demand for all of the retail, the retail space we have,” said Clapp.
Clapp says as malls decline, the businesses around them tend to follow suit.
“These are the big stores that draw customers and so when they go dark all of these smaller stores, you know, the boutique type stores that are nearby they suffer,” added Clapp.
According to Clapp, repurposing those empty retail spaces for manufacturing, aerospace research, and biotechnology could open the door to more job growth.
Earlier this year, retailer Sam’s Club closed stores Manchester and Orange. Other retailers like Lowe’s and Starbucks announced plans to close some stores in 2019.