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Are We Witnessing The Death Of Big Department Stores?

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- The retail world has lost another department store.

Sears announced it will be closing its Maplewood location this summer.

The announcement follows Herberger's decision to close all 250 of its stores.

The closures have many people wondering: Are big department stores just dying?

"We're undergoing a kind of retail revolution," said marketing professor Dave Brennan, of the University of St. Thomas.

He says shopping behaviors aren't just driven by the price competition of online giants like Amazon, but also their convenience.

"It's much easier to go to an online department store than it is to go physically into a store," he said.

Last year, online sales made up more than 9 percent of all retail, adding up to a cool $420 billion.

Brennan says that while he believes department stores are slow dying, they won't suffer a total extinction.

The stores that survive, Brennan says, have to make shopping an experience, to give consumers extra incentive to walk in the door.

Shoppers like Rachel Rogers, of Atlanta, Georgia, agree.

"I prefer to go in, try it on, rather than send it back," she said.

There are concerns Amazon's hold on the retail market could be too powerful.

But Brennan says in the '60s, Sears was considered powerful, adding that with changing technology, retail can change quickly.

Sears has more than 20 locations in Minnesota, but the company said its Maplewood location will be the only one that's closing.

The store will begin having its liquidation sale Friday. It'll officially close in July.

The going out of business sales for Herberger's are already underway and could last up to three months.


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