Customers Rapidly Deserting Malls for Ecommerce, Says Former Toys ‘R’ Us CEO

Nordstrom is the class act of the department store segment and doing everything right says Former Toys ‘R’ Us CEO, Gerald Storch. Unfortunately, that is not enough according to Storch because customers are deserting malls for ecommerce.

He predicts that only top-tier malls will survive and even those will have to adapt to attract millennials. For Nordstrom and other department stores to survive and thrive they will have to quickly need to learn how to make money on the internet.

Gerald Storch, former CEO of Toys ‘R’ Us and CEO of Storch Advisors, discusses the death of most malls and the need for department stores like Nordstrom to do better at making money on the internet on Fox Business:

Nordstrom “Doing Everything Right” But It’s Not Enough

Nordstrom is the class act of the department store segment. They are doing everything right. Everything people say they should be doing but it’s not enough. Their stores are in great condition. They invest in their stores, they’re beautiful. They invest in their people, their service is the best in the industry. You love going to Nordstrom.

They have great internet and have invested in their ecommerce sites. They have great data management and customer relationship management skills. They have great style, their merchandise is pretty good.

Customers Rapidly Deserting Malls for Ecommerce

But it’s not enough. There is a hole in the bottom of the boat and the water is pouring in and they can’t bail fast enough. That hole is that customers are deserting the malls and they are going to mass merchants off the malls and of course to ecommerce.

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I don’t think it is the demise of the department store. I think the all-channel model will still succeed. But in order to be profitable, a department store like Nordstrom needs to learn how to make more money on the internet. You can’t just say do all the things in the bricks and mortar store, make them more experiential, etc. They’ve been doing that and it’s not enough.

You can see that in their results. Their high-end stores were up in sales only three-tenths of one percent over the holiday period. That includes their ecommerce which was up 18 percent. You don’t have to know a lot of algebra to know that their physical bricks and mortar stores were sharply negative during this season.

You need to embrace the inevitable. You can’t just build a sort of fancier stagecoach in order to prevent the advent of the automobile. You have to build a profitable ecommerce site. That requires redoing their business system in order to be profitable online.

Only the Best Malls Remain Viable Enough to Transform

We talk about ‘A Malls’, ‘B Malls’, and ‘C Malls’. The ‘C Malls’ are gone. They will become doctors offices, insurance offices, places to get your nails filed, that kind of a thing. They’re done. Forget about them.

The ‘B Malls’ are a mixed bag. Some of them will be fantastic mixed-used developments. They need to be repurposed. You can’t keep them the way they are. That’s for sure. You saw Google putting office space in there. I think you will see a lot of residential, apartment buildings along with streetscapes in those kinds of malls.

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The ‘A Malls’ are still viable and they will be. They’re putting in great restaurants, theaters, entertainment, and successful concepts which attract young people, millennials, who have not really been going to the mall.

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