COLLEGE STATION, TX — Scripture Haven, a locally owned and operated Christian bookstore, has been a tenant of Post Oak Mall for nearly 40 years.
“We’ve owned the store for 40 years, and we’ve been here [Post Oak Mall] 38 years of those 40 since we’ve had the store,” said co-owner Linda Moore.
Throughout the decades, Linda and her husband have weathered the recessions of the 80s and 90s, even the financial crisis of 2008. But one of the hardest things they’ve faced is the global pandemic.
“It’s been tough, but we’ve maintained our presence here in the community,” said Moore.
The coronavirus pandemic has taken a toll on the entire retail industry. Post Oak Mall’s largest anchor store, Macy’s, announced this week that they are closing their location as part of a larger plan. The company is planning to close 42 stores across the country this week and 125 stores in the next year.
The loss of Macy’s is not positive news the already hurting mall industry.
“They’re anchors and they pull those people into the mall and the little stores feed off of that traffic. So, definitely when that goes away then the shoppers go away,” said Moore.
“About 60% of department stores are suffering a lot. About 40 chain retailers last year declared bankruptcy, and we expect many more, and about anywhere between 11,000 to 25,000 stores, not just in malls, all over were closed last year,” said Venky Shankar, the Coleman Chair Professor in Marketing and Director of Research, Center for Retailing Studies at the Mays Business School.
The future of malls throughout the country is indicative of a broader trend we are seeing with the rise in e-commerce.
“By no means would I ever want to say physical stores are going away or becoming less important," said Scott Benedict, Director of the Center for Research Retailing Studies at Mays Business School. "In fact, as digital and physical retail works together to serve the customer in ways that really accelerated during the pandemic, but we're really already kind of heading that way before the pandemic and will continue on that path after the pandemic.”
The United States has five times the retail square footage per person of any other developed nation. Experts say many retail mall-based stores are struggling the most with the online shopping trends.
“We will probably need to shed, as a country, about 25% of the storefronts that we have or had pre-pandemic. So some of that correction is already going on, within the next few years. So, we need fewer stores in light of how retail is evolving and malls are probably the most profound example of that,” said Benedict.
But that’s not to say malls are dying and going away completely.
“Malls will not go away. Malls will still be popular. We just have too many of them,” said Benedict.
For Scripture Haven, one of the longest tenants of Post Oak Mall, they currently have no plans of leaving the mall.
“So many people have found us because we are in the mall because they’re walking by and they see us. It just gives us a little bit more visibility possibly we wouldn’t have otherwise, and we’re established now, you know. So, we just think this is where we belong right now. One day at a time, I don’t know what tomorrow brings, but one day at a time," said Moore.