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According to a recent article in The Wall Street Journal (paid subscription may be needed to access the full article), in-store retail traffic has been declining by about 5 percent a month for the past two years, as consumers increasingly do their shopping online, or at least use mobile phones and computers to research products and find the best deals. An important byproduct of the change in shopping habits is that customers are less likely to browse in physical stores where they can be tempted to make impulse purchases.

Approximately $70 million in retail lease obligations nationwide are due to expire in 2018, and many retailers are expected to start closing stores at that time. "We're in a transformation where retailers are recognizing the Internet isn't going anywhere and to be competitive, you have to have a more compelling online presence and an efficient [physical] store base," according to a Moody's analyst quoted in the article. The article predicts that the most closings will occur in the office supply, specialty retail, and convenience store sectors.

Will these store closings result in lower retail employment, or will the physical store jobs be replaced with internet sales/customer service/order fulfillment jobs? We will see.


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SOURCE (both charts): Rachael King, "Retail Spends Less on Cybersecurity Than Banking, Healthcare," The Wall Street Journal, Sept 2, 2014. (Paid subscription may be needed to access article.)