A few days ago I posted this on Twitter:
Is this too simple? Bookstore + foot traffic (location, location, location) = survival? Bookstore + mall parking lot = death?
Yesterday, Barnes and Noble announced that they were looking for a buyer:
The retailer said its board decided to explore a possible sale and other strategic alternatives because its stock was “significantly undervalued.”
I don’t think brick-and-mortar bookstores are going to disappear, now matter how easy the internet makes the book-buying process. I also don’t think independent bookstores will die out, while corporate bookstores will survive. Rather, I think select independents in prime foot-traffic locations will remain viable, while everyone else will either die a slow death or be subsumed into other outlets. (Imagining B&N as three aisles of a Sears, K-Mark or Wal-Mart store is not hard to do.)
At the macro level the internet continues to replace the interstate and all of its tributaries. Where before we drove to destinations to purchase products, now we search and click online.
As a generalization, then, if your business success is tied to a parking lot, you’re probably going to be hurting in the future. To the extent that some malls and shopping centers will always be attractions in themselves, the great majority of ganged brick-and-mortar retailers will be continue to be bled by the internet, in the same way that most content mediums have already been afflicted.
I don’t see anything turning this trend around. Not even a sharp drop in fuel prices.
— Mark Barrett