COVID-19

Are malls and department stores really springing back to life?

Andy Uhler May 24, 2021
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Retailers like Macy's and T.J. Maxx reported significantly higher sales this first quarter relative to 2020. Joe Raedle/Getty Images
COVID-19

Are malls and department stores really springing back to life?

Andy Uhler May 24, 2021
Heard on:
Retailers like Macy's and T.J. Maxx reported significantly higher sales this first quarter relative to 2020. Joe Raedle/Getty Images
HTML EMBED:
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Urban Outfitters and Nordstrom will report their first-quarter results on Tuesday. This comes after Macy’s, Ross and T.J. Maxx said last week that sales soared in the first quarter relative to last year.

This comes as no surprise to Bob Phibbs, who found himself at a mall in New Jersey a few weeks ago. “You would think it was the day before Christmas,” Phibbs said. “There were so many packages and people.”

Phibbs is not just a shopper –– he runs a retail consultancy, The Retail Doctor. He said it’s clear people are ready to get out and shop and shop in malls. “And this idea that all malls are dead, and no one will go to physical shopping, and online is going to do 50% [of all sales] in one year,” Phibbs said. “It just didn’t pan out. It didn’t even pan out in the pandemic.”

Still, consumer habits have shifted. Bill Lewis, a director at the consulting firm AlixPartners, said that the pandemic certainly accelerated some of those shifts and retailers recognize that. “So they’re still making digital an important part and a growing part of their business. But at the same time, they’re prepared to integrate the physical and digital even more than they did in the past,” Lewis said.

He added that COVID-19 lockdowns might have had a positive effect on retailers, forcing them to gain a better understanding of what customers want and how they want to get it.

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