The challenge shopping malls face as brick and mortars close

NILES, Ohio (WYTV) – With the popularity of online shopping threatening brick and mortar stores, local malls are forced to focus on more than just selling clothes in order to stay relevant.

Need a hair cut or nails done? Maybe you need a new license or even a place of worship. Malls today need to be the one stop for everything in a person’s life.

“Shopping malls are places now where people go now to do those things in their lives that are important to them,” said Eastwood Mall Spokesperson Joe Bell.

Big retailers have been off to a rocky start this year. JCPenney and Staples are planning on shutting down stores, though exact locations have not yet been announced.

Recent local brick and mortar store closures:

“We saw just a slew of national bankruptcies this year and it’s been early in the year. It’s a little bit unsettling to a lot of people,” Bell said.

It’s not just stores closing. Many companies, like Walmart and Lowe’s, are laying off thousands of employees throughout the country.

Chains can place some blame on the tremendous success of online shopping, especially through Amazon. Shoppers can buy anything on the site and they don’t even have to leave their homes.

Bell said the Eastwood Mall will never fight the success of online shopping — instead, they embrace it.

“We’re going to see online shopping here for a long, long time but you’re also going to see places where you’re going to walk in, put your hands on merchandise, and by it that moment.”

Another reason stores are closing their doors has to do with natural selection.

Bell said big name stores closing is nothing new to the mall industry.

“Strauss, Kauffman’s, and others have just gone away and others rise to take their place. So in that sense, you shouldn’t be too alarmed when you see other retailers go away. It’s part of a natural cycle.”


The Eastwood Mall’s big name retailers are doing pretty well, Bell said. He said the Cafaro Company is always thinking ahead about what is going to sell, which is why popular retailer H&M moved in.