Innovative Approaches May Save Physical Retail

In places like San Jose, "new approaches to the storefront" are paying dividends for physical retailers willing to experiment.

March 1, 2018, 2:00 PM PST

By Philip Rojc @PhilipRojc

Santana Row

Eric Fredericks / Flickr

Confronted with the so-called "retail apocalypse," stores in San Jose have found success with creative approaches that do things traditional malls (and Amazon) cannot. These include experiential offerings, adaptable spaces, and a willingness to merge online shopping with brick and mortar.

For SPUR, Kathryn Exon Smith and Jaclyn Tidwell write, "Lifestyle shops now make up a higher percentage of retail space in both malls and downtown strips, replacing traditional goods and apparel stores with restaurants, entertainment and other services."

Greater adaptability lets retailers cater to demand more closely. "Communal spaces are on the rise in downtown San Jose as well, with food halls like the SoFA Market and San Pedro Square Market, maker spaces like Tech Shop, and co-working companies such as NextSpace and WeWork setting up downtown in recent years. The lifespan of retail spaces is changing, too, with property owners trying out more flexible, interim uses."

Other methods meld online and in-person shopping. "Many are offering the option to buy online and pick up in store, such as the Amazon package pick-up location that has recently opened on the long-vacant downtown corner at 2nd and San Fernando streets."

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