USC Retail Department Chair Mark Rosenbaum is excited by this year’s holiday shopping season. A decade after the great recession that started in 2008, he said retail sales in the state and nation are back to 2007 levels. The stock market’s record highs are just in time for retail and for consumer confidence, he said.
Rosenbaum's optimism is shared by Andy Peach, manager of Columbia’s Columbiana Center Mall. His stores had a great Black Friday, with some sales up double digits from last year. Both men recognize the impact of the Internet on store shopping and know that many stores and malls will close or be re-purposed, but that is natural evolution.
The strong malls will survive, said Peach, and stores will hit a balance between their brick-and-mortar entities and their online presence. Rosenbaum said the stores and malls that thrive will be the ones that offer amenities that can’t be matched by the Internet.