• @DukeLong, Great topic and one we all debate rigorously.
    I have discussed this with some of the more forward thinking retail minds (Landlord, Tenant, and Analyst) and they sum it up as this “The Customer Experience”. What does that mean? It means that Manufacturers will continue to open their own branded stores (Ralph Lauren, Brooks Brothers are great examples) where they can control both the product (merchandising, prices) and the brand image. When you go into an Abercrombie store (pretend here, they know we are too old to be customers) the atmosphere is more akin to that of a nightclub than a clothing store. Why? Because that is the experience that customer demands. Simple we have moved from a Producer driven retail model (Catalog & Department Stores) to a Consumer Power model. The Consumer model demands that retail cater to their specific needs and DEMAND experiences. EVERYONE has the “great new product”, that’s the price of admission to the retail game so Customers expect it. Retailers must move from conformity to Customization, from Self to Community and Micro Market via electronic media (social, web, etc).
    So, what happens to Metropolis? The Circuit City type stores are subdivided and turned into Pod Malls where Sony, Samsung, Vizio, Apple will sublease floor space to merchandise microcosms of their products which you (the local customer based on zip code sales and IP address data) are buying. Remember the key for retail going forward into this next phase of retail is Customer Experience. Create the Experience and they will come!