I was talking with an old timer the other day. He was telling me that with all his aches and pains and limited mobility that he had become a fan of online shopping. According to him, it is rather nice to sit at home, shop for groceries, and have them delivered to his house.

Of course, this new way to shop has hurt some retailers, and those selling other items besides food have gone belly up. When stores close, malls close, and employees lose their jobs.

Some well-known names have already closed many stores and there are plans to close more in the near future. Payless Shoes, Dress Barn, The Gap, Sears, Kmart to name a few have already closed stores in the area. Online shopping has taken a toll. Digital commerce changed the old way of spending and reduced the number of people going out to the mall for their needs.

In 2017, it was reported that 5,000 stores closed. There were 1,674 additional store closings in 2019. Some shopping malls stand vacant or have changed in form and content.

When the malls close and big box stores go out of business, those who run small, independent stores that sell specialty items suffer.

Have customers lost the excitement of going out to shop, or are they just getting older and have more health problems? The marketplace loses a great deal of its charm when people cease visiting regularly.

The man I spoke with told me that online shopping enabled him to browse a range of products, view them, read their specifications and price. It was easy to order and pay with a credit or debit card or PayPal. Many online sellers offer free shipping and returns.

Others like the old-fashioned way to shop. They like looking for bargains, the chance to feel and experience items, try them on before buying, associating with other shoppers. There are those who feel internet shopping provides more opportunities for scammers and hackers and tends to make shoppers more socially isolated and lonely. There may be delays in delivery with online shopping. But to each his own. Your mall of today may become a new business or apartment complex in the future.

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Jack Simpson is a former educator, a veteran, an author and a law enforcement officer. His column appears each week in the weekend edition of this newspaper.

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