Eight cash register terminals. One employee.
4 customer service terminals. All empty.
This was the scene at my local Barnes & Noble last week... in the middle of an otherwise busy work day. The attached Starbucks was packed -- standing room only -- but Barnes & Noble was eerily empty. I was only there to kill time while waiting for an eyeglass repair next door. I decided to buy a greeting card.
"Would you like to start a membership card with us today?" asked the clerk.
I literally chuckled. "Uh... seriously? You know this place isn't going to be around much longer, right?" I'm nice. I didn't say that out loud, but I was sure thinking it.
It's not headline news that large brick-and-mortar retail is suffering, but it's worse than you think I'm sure. Check out this list of stores closing in coming months (credit: Casey Research):
Payless is closing 1,000 stores
Radio Shack is closing 552 stores
The Limited is closing 250 stores
Sears is closing 150 stores
J.C. Penney is closing 120 stores
American Apparel is closing 110 stores
Macy's is closing 100 stores
Abercrombie & Fitch is closing 60 stores
The craziest part is... many of these retailers are ANCHOR TENANTS at major malls. When the anchor tenants go dark, the largest spaces become empty and foot traffic for the remaining tenants suffers.
Envisioning what's coming as the trend continues is exciting, yet... a little scary.