Does the Sears Bankruptcy Foreshadow the End of Brick and Mortar Retail?

News that Sears Holdings would close another 142 Sears and Kmart stores broke Monday following the company declaring Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Once again, the national real estate market will have to explore options for millions of square feet of retail space.

None of the remaining stores in Wichita are being closed. The last Wichita Kmart closed in the spring. A Sears department store remains open at Towne East, while Towne West has a Sears Hometown Store.  The Sears department store in Towne West closed about four years ago. Wichita also has a Sears Outlet located on Rock Road near K-96.

While the Wichita market is unaffected by the closings, three Kmarts in Salina and Kansas City are on the list.

Brick and mortar retail has been evolving drastically the past decade with the continuing increase of online shopping. Often it is still heard that the end of in-store retail is near, however Census Bureau figures, as cited in a recent NBC News article, show online purchasing still only accounts for around 10 percent of all retail. Also, despite these claims, a number of online retailers continue to open brick and mortar locations.

Recently, the Amazon store count topped 600 locations. While this number is weak compared to competitor Walmart’s 4,761 stores, it still shows a move toward physical locations to supplement the shopping giant’s online presence.

While people are drawn in by the ease and affordability of online shopping, retailers still have much to offer with brick and mortar locations.  The retail environment is changing, but stores that are ready to evolve have every chance of finding success.