business news in context, analysis with attitude

Got the following email from an MNB reader:

I do find it amazing that the discussions that talk about shopping moving online have largely focused on shifting purchase patterns and attributed them to Millennials. To me, this really misses large portions of the picture.
Let’s take malls as an example. At the same time that malls are declining we have seen strip malls expand rapidly with stores selling similar products to those that you find at the shops at the mall. The strip mall is easier to navigate, more conveniently located and anchored by stores that range from Grocery stores, supercenters, drug stores and clothing outlets.
When I do venture to a mall, I am often going to a movie or other experience that I enjoy. When I am out for those reasons, I do not want to buy anything that I will have to carry around until I return to my car. If I could simply experience the item and purchase it from the retailer then have it shipped, that would be a game changer. That has not been my experience.
The anchors of many malls include stores like Sears or JC Pennies. Those particular retailers are not the types of stores that are relevant to current shopping trends and consumers. How could you expect them to fulfill the role of anchor store when they cannot remain relevant to their own shoppers? Sears never did react to Home Depot or Lowes growing in the same categories that I used to frequent Sears to shop decades ago. (Yes, I have to go back decades to recall the last time I bought anything at Sears and last time I was there, they really hadn’t changed a bit!)
When I look at other high end anchors, they feel out of place in many malls and do not carry items at prices that consumers struggling to start their lives as they pay off immense student debts and try to figure out how to afford a place to live would be interested in. It’s not that they don’t want these things, they just cannot see a time when they will be able to afford them. At least that is what my daughter and her friends tell me.
When I look at all of the factors, it seems to me that the story is less about Millennials or e-com than it is about technology that has brought to life the very things that large portions of society in every generation desire.

KC's View: