Brick-and-mortar stores aren't dying, retail expert says

The holiday shopping season is upon us, and despite the popularity of online shopping, a retail and e-commerce conference executive said brick-and-mortar stores won’t be going away anytime soon.

“Retail is, by no means, dying."

- Zia Daniell Wigder, chief global content officer at Shoptalk

“I think there’s been this kind of bifurcation within the industry where you’re seeing some of the retailers on the high end doing very well and some of those on the lower end dong well," Zia Daniell Wigder told FOX Business' Gerry Baker on "WSJ at Large."

Wigder is the chief global content officer at Shoptalk, which for the past five years has hosted an annual event where thousands of established retailers and brands get together with direct-to-consumer and tech startups, large tech and internet companies, venture capital investors, real estate developers, equity analysts, media and others to talk all things retail.

Wigder said one of the areas that’s undergoing a lot of change is the apparel sector.

“You’re starting to see some new business models emerging,” she said. “For example, re-commerce, or the sale of preowned items, is doing incredibly well right now," Wigder said.

"You’re seeing companies like Tread Up partnering with Macy’s and JCPenney. You’ve got RealReal, which went public.  There are others like Poshmark that are involved in social shopping."

- Zia Daniell Wigder, chief global content officer at Shoptalk

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"And so, the whole idea that consumers are going to be reluctant to buy pre-owned goods really is no longer true," Wigder said.

Wigder said that trend is seen especially within younger shoppers.

"In many cases, they're doing it because of the cost or the environmental impact, but also for social media," Wigder said. "So, a lot of these shoppers are looking to pick out outfits that they may not need to own permanently, but they want to use for their next Instagram shot.”

She added those younger shoppers actually feel the retailers they support need to take the lead in protecting the environment.

“They don't expect them to be followers and just go along with governmental policies. They expect them to be out there taking a stand."

- Zia Daniell Wigder, chief global content officer at Shoptalk

"So, you've seen companies like Patagonia that have long been kind of trailblazers in this place in the space," Wigder said. "You've seen others like REI, kind of the ones you would expect to be playing a role there, but also some of the bigger brands are really looking to address their supply chain, ensuring that they are becoming more sustainable because they know that that's what their shoppers are going to demand.”


Wigder says traditional stores are also getting ahead by offering something very non-traditional.

“You're seeing the explosion today of what's called experiential retail, the idea that you aren't just going into stores to buy products, but rather going into experiencing them."

- Zia Daniell Wigder, chief global content officer at Shoptalk

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"I think the experiential piece is incredibly important," Wigder said. "And the experiences run the gamut from kind of functional to entertaining. So, you've got Canada Goose where you can walk into their cold lockers and experience just how cold their jackets can withstand. Or ... you can go on climbing walls, or you can go to the Nike store and test out your running shoes."

Wigder believes offering experiences is the difference between retailers that are succeeding and those that are not.

“Ultimately, what they're doing is making these places that people really want to go,” she said.“The stores that are not doing well are the retailers are those that just haven't adapted."


FOX Business' WSJ at Large airs at 9:30 p.m. ET on Friday