Macy’s exiting 2 San Antonio locations as retailers, malls face challenges

Trend is toward smaller, concept stores and more technology post-pandemic

SAN ANTONIO – With fewer shoppers opening the doors, Macy’s announced it will close them, checking out of Rolling Oaks Mall and the Shops at Rivercenter after some 30 years.

Macy’s called the shuttering part of its strategy which leaves four stores in San Antonio.

“Retailing has changed forever thanks to the pandemic, particularly shopping malls will no longer be the same as before,” said Venky Shankar, research director at Texas A&M’s Center for Retailing Studies.

As the pandemic turned up online shopping, many stores buckled. Last year, 40 chain retailers declared bankruptcy and some vanished.

And as the pandemic expedited some closures, Shankar said it also accelerated the need to change.

“All of the retailers have to be omnichannel,” he said. “They have to follow the consumer, the shopper.”

That means giving them 24/7 access to shopping and creative use of technology.

“For example, you may want to create stores that let you experience something but then let you order it either in-store at a kiosk or mobile device and get it delivered to your doorstep,” Shankar said.

The trend, he said, is toward smaller, concept stores and not the big stores that have long anchored traditional malls. That downsizing saves on real estate costs, but creates challenges for malls.

“Malls are going through a very tough time right now,” he said. “If you have a huge indoor mall with all the different features like an ice skating rink and movie theater, those are becoming very unattractive now, unfortunately, due to the pandemic.”

To survive, malls will have to repurpose space and be creative.

Macy’s will depart the two local malls in a matter of weeks.

“We will be working with all stakeholders to explore potential redevelopment opportunities for the space,” said Ruffin Moore, general manager for Rolling Oaks Mall.

The Shops at Rivercenter did not respond to an inquiry.

After the pandemic, Shankar expects shoppers will return to brick and mortar stores.

“But, they may not be flocking to the stores in big numbers as they used to do during the days of big malls,” he said.

RELATED: Two San Antonio Macy’s stores to close this year

About the Authors:

As a consumer reporter, Marilyn is all about helping people stay safe and save a buck. Since coming to KSAT in 1985, she’s covered everything from crime to politics, winning awards for her coverage of the Mexican Mafia, Oklahoma tornadoes, children’s transplants, an investigation into voting irregularities and even a hit-and-run Santa Claus.

Luis Cienfuegos is a photographer at KSAT 12.