Steve Lieberman: Why Retail is the Great Unifier

Friends on the industrial side of the shopping aisle often tell me that industrial is the new retail, but anyone who knows retail knows that retail is constantly changing, and it will always be the new retail. Whether retail is red hot or in a blue state, retailers bring us together, meet the challenges of change, and unite parties for the optimal shopping experiences. Retail stores certainly had a rough year in 2020 and continue to have challenges. The pandemic has been the most disruptive force retail stores have faced in decades, and it accelerated trends that were already in motion—most notably, online shopping. This trend was hugely propelled by a behavioral shift of working from home and doing almost everything there. E-commerce represented about 1 percent of retail sales in 2000; it grew over the next two decades to account for more than 10 percent by the end of 2019. One year and one pandemic later, online now represents nearly 20 percent of all retail sales today. This clearly accelerated the failure of weak businesses and served as a growth catalyst for new ones. The number of chains went bankrupt more than doubled from 23 to over 50, leading to 25,000-plus stores closing nationwide. More than 10,000 restaurants closed in Texas alone, and 4 million square feet of local retail space became available in North Texas. Still, 80 percent of all retail sales are in stores, and shopping centers are not going away—by a long shot. The consumer wants and has the capacity to shop, how, when, and where they want, and many of their purchases—particularly replenishment items—will continue to occur through the internet. However, the store’s role will remain central to the shopping experience, the building of brands, consultation, and social interaction. Provided, of course, that the retailer or shopping center continues to deliver a great experience. Click to read more at