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Lots of retail stores closing in NJ, but these other merchants doing well

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It seems like everywhere you look these days, another major retail store is closing.

Macy’s recently announced it’s closing 68 stores nationwide, including three in New Jersey, in Moorsetown, Voorhees and Wayne.

Another big retailer closing stores in New Jersey is Kmart. Closures are taking place in Clementon, East Brunswick, Pleasantville and Rio Grande.

JCPenney and Sears have also announced plans close hundreds of stores across the country although it’s not clear yet how many stores in New Jersey will shutter.

Radio Shack is closing at least 20 stores in the Garden State, and several drug store chains are also planning store closings, including CVS and Walgreens.

“It certainly represents significant churn in the labor market because we are having people being displaced by sort of the reinvention of retailing,” said James Hughes, the dean of the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers University.

He noted “what is occurring really is omni-channel retailing, and it’s turned the world as we once knew it on its head. We have different types of shopping today: we have online shopping, we have information technology on your smart phone even walking through the stores.”

As more and more retail stores close, jobs are being lost, but Hughes pointed out new ones are being created at online companies like Amazon.

“Fulfillment centers really have three or four times the number of jobs of traditional employment. Some of them are on three eight-hour shifts per day,” he said.

He stressed even though there’s a lot of animation in these locations, “the final packaging has to be done by human beings, and so maybe the machines can collect all the goods and deliver them to your workstation.”

“Until drones come in and displace workers, we’re going to have need for more drivers, deliverers and the like.”

Hughes also said many online-only retail stores are now engaged in establishing a presence in brick-and-mortar stores, but with a twist.

“They will maybe have limited merchandise, they may be the destination to pick up something that you’ve ordered online. It may be the place where you return goods.”

He noted there will still part-time work opportunities for teenagers at these types of locations, and “we’re still adding numbers of fast-food shops— Five Guys, 25 Burgers or whatever they are, there’s a zillion of them around.”

Hughes said the bottom line is “we’re not sure what the final outcome is going to be what but certainly tomorrow is going to look different from today.”

You can contact reporter David Matthau at David.Matthau@townsquaremedia.com.

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