The Retail Store Closing Tsunami Retail Apocalypse

A massive wave of store closures is changing the face of retail forever.

New technology and the rise in online shopping is wiping out some retailers, such as those selling music, camera equipment, and computers.

But physical stores will never become totally obsolete. Consumers still want to touch and test out certain types of merchandise before making a purchase. So which stores will survive the so-called retail apocalypse?

The Atlantic’s Derek Thompson made a chart measuring the fall and rise of retail employment for 19 types of vendors over the last decade.

We think it’s the best representation of which kinds of retailers are going to continue to grow and maintain their brick-and-mortar locations, compared to those that will disappear.

Music stores have been crushed by iTunes, Spotify and other music-purchasing and sharing apps. Similarly, Amazon and the rise of e-books have put thousands of book stores out of business.

Overall, retail employment in the U.S. grew by a meager 0.32%, or 49,000 jobs, over the last decade, according to Thompson.

Department stores lost nearly 225,000 jobs over that time period, while supercenters — such as Wal-Mart and Costco — added half a million workers.

The loss of department-store jobs is a trend that is expected to accelerate in the next year as retailers such as JCPenney, Macy’s and Sears continue to close underperforming stores. The closures have forced many shopping malls out of business, because those stores typically serve as traffic-driving anchors.

Green Street Advisors, a real estate and REIT analytics firm, predicts that about 15% of U.S. malls will fail or be converted into non-retail space within the next 10 years. That’s an increase from less than two years ago, when the firm predicted 10% of malls would fail or be converted.