SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Blame it on the internet and the high cost of doing business. Across the country, there have been more retail closures in 2019 than of all of last year.
But there are signs in the Bay Area that retail is bouncing back. But retailers have had to change the way they do business to get customers' attention to get back into the store and spend.
Kit Yarrow, consumer psychologist and professor at Golden Gate University says retail is struggling across the board. Not only the small mom-and-pop shops but the older legacy department stores.
"When we look at these massive numbers of stores closing, what we realize is, in order to stay competitive you have to do things differently."
The once online-only clothing rental company, Rent The Runway, is trying to do just that with their new flagship store in San Francisco. The two-floor, 8,300 square foot store features never-before-seen co-working areas, a beauty bar to allow customers to get ready for their day in store and an event space.
All of it is designed to keep up with the customer's changing needs.
Maureen Sullivan, COO of Rent the Runway flew in from New York ahead of the store's grand opening on May 8.
"Our customer-- she's a busy working woman so her time is the most valuable thing. Everything is designed to save her time. To make it as convenient and efficient to come in and out to get what she needs." Smiles Sullivan, who stands behind a large wall of handbags.
Rent the Runway isn't alone. There are a number of big retailers taking some big chances, hoping for a big payoff.
Yarrow uses Nordstrom as an example.
"Nordstrom is one of the first examples of a company that is on the leading edge of doing things differently. They were the first to incorporate technology in the shopping experience."
In New York, the recently opened Hudson Yards features 750,000 square feet of retail space paired with a hotel, restaurants and any service a person could ever need.
Decathalon Sports already has 1,600 stores worldwide but chose to open it's first full-scale store in Emeryville. The store showcases not only 47,000 square feet of retail but space to test equipment and encourage shoppers to try before they buy.
Yarrow says it's all about providing something exclusive.
"Shoppers want it to be more exciting and more predictably unique. Some traditionally online retailers have been very successful in opening brick-and-mortar stores because they're new and feel fresh. They're lifestyle oriented. They have exclusive products. Others make it a complete experience with lifestyle and beauty and makeovers. Either of those things works."
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