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Big box stores face uncertain future

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(NEWSCHANNEL 3) – On Friday J.C. Penny announced it will be closing upwards of 140 locations nationwide, switching its focus to online shopping.

This announcement is just the latest in a line of big box and department stores that have closed their doors.

There’s no word yet on which J.C. Penny locations will be closing, we’re expected to learn more in the coming months, but more and more retail giants have been closing physical locations and putting more energy into their online presence.

For many of us, heading to the mall is a thing of the past.

“Macy’s has been struggling with this for years, then your store becomes a lonely island,” said Dr. Macel Zondag, Assistant Professor of Marketing at WMU Haworth College of Business.

If we’re looking for clothing or cosmetics, we often head to our keyboards first.

“There are better opportunities to score a deal, a bargain online, customers were obviously shift toward online purchases, no longer visit the stores,” said Dr. Zondag.

J.C. Penny, MC Sports, and Macy’s are just a handful of retail giants closing locations across the country since the start of 2017, all of them struggling to get customers in the door.

“Certain store concepts in fashion department stores are no longer attracting the traffic they need in order for them to pay for their pretty expensive operations,” said Dr. Zondag.

Stores are now trying a new approach, shopping online, but also drawing you into the store.

“You order three different sizes of the same garment, you find the one you actually want to wear, return the other two to the store, so there is a role for a traditional brick-and-mortar retail,” said Dr. Zondag.

And while physical locations are shrinking, they’ll never disappear altogether.

“You will still need distribution centers all across the country so it’s not like you can do away with physical presence and just go online,” said Dr. Zondag. “Goods have to be somewhere and physically ship somewhere.”

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