UNITED STATES—I have been absolutely concerned about the state of businesses in America nowadays. With companies like Amazon having a tight grip on the pockets of Americans, we have to start to ask ourselves rather malls will soon become extinct. Several malls in my region have recently closed its doors, or worse, major department stores have been forced to close the doors. We already know JC Penny is closing stores nationwide, not to mention Macy’s and now Sears.

My stomach was in knots and I mean literal knots over the fall of Toys R’ Us. I mean the only toy store that was left in the country where you had a variety of toys at a decent price shuttered all of its stores. That was a devastating blow to the retail industry and with news of Sears closing two stores in my neck of the woods I’m utterly concerned about where our country is headed.

Look, I know what it’s like for a major company to close its doors. One of my first jobs was for a national supermarket chain that shuttered its doors in the Midwest after being open for nearly 80 years. It sucks, and I feel the pain of people who have bled their sweat and tears into a company, only to find themselves out of a job and having to look elsewhere for employment. It is scary and stressful as hell and I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy. We have to ask the bigger question: why are so many people willing to shop online versus the stores?

It is indeed a loaded question and is not as easy to process, but let’s do our best to try to understand the situation a bit more. For starters, I don’t shop online. I think in my entire life I have maybe purchased five things via the Internet. It was simply because I needed some items to be delivered because I didn’t’ have access to transportation to pick them up. It’s that simple. I DO NOT TRUST THE INTERNET! I’m not comfortable giving my personal details over the web, and as much as you’d like to think things are secure, we know that is not the case. There are way too many stories about identity theft in this country to just log online and put in your credit card or debit card without the slightest bit of hesitation. On top of that, you are solely seeing images of the item that you purchase online. You don’t get to actual SEE it, TOUCH it, FEEL it; it diminishes the value in my personal opinion.

The biggest grip I have about purchasing items online is that sometimes you are sent the wrong item! It happened to me with a pair of jeans I purchase. Not only was I sent the wrong size, I was sent the wrong style of jean as well. This resulted in my having to take the items to a physical store to get a refund. I think there lies laziness with most Americans that I’m hoping we snap out of. There is nothing wrong with shopping online, but we have gotten so comfortable with sitting on our bums that we don’t want to get up and do anything.

I like the notion of going to the mall, and it’s not simply to purchase something all the time. The goal is to simply get out of the house and get moving. Walking the mall is great exercise people, you don’t always have to spend money, you get to sight see and sew what new styles are out and about. To be honest I’ve shied away from the mall a bit. Not only to save money, but I’ve come to appreciate outlet malls more.

Why? I save a ton more money and get double, sometimes triple the amount of items compared to if I went to the mall. I mean $100 at the outlet goes far more than the mall, I hate to say it, but it’s the honest truth. We live in a world right now where money is scarce, and it seems we are making less, but paying significantly more for services that are not fully delivering. As a result, we have to do any and everything we can to save a bit. I think the biggest reasons so many have stopped going to the mall is because of the lack of customer services, high prices and long lines. I mean I’ve recently visited a retailer where there were a ton of workers just sitting around as the line continued to grow and grow.

Patience is something not many Americans have. We want things quick, fast and in a hurry, which might explain why online shopping is booming. You can’t get it right away as if in the store, but a business day or two doesn’t seem to matter that much for some Americans. The retailers can do a few things to draw the consumer back into the store: 1) More advertising is key! Utilize coupons and discounts to draw the consumer in. If you put in a coupon I can guarantee you every single time I will spend more money than normal. 2) Improve customer service.

People want to feel like they are appreciated when they visit an establishment. If you don’t feel appreciated you are less likely to return to that place. 3) Offer better prices and discounts. Consumers want to save money, we’re not celebrities; we can’t just go to stores and buy whatever we want without hesitation or thinking about it first. Trust me we would love to do that, but it’s not the norm for most people.

We have to find a way to keep the retailers that we have around. We don’t want Amazon to become a monopoly where we’re forced to visit them to purchase items. You want options, and with options you get better prices. Remember the Internet was not always around, so while it’s here to stay, that doesn’t mean it has to be our only source to purchase goods.

Written By Kelsey Thomas