PHOENIX (3TV / CBS 5) - Up to 25,000 stores could close this year, as the coronavirus pandemic accelerated closures in an already fragile retail landscape, and according to Coresight Research, about 55 to 60 percent of those closures will be in malls.

Several retailers have declared bankruptcy in recent months. Some plan to restructure, while others, like Pier One, are closing all locations. 

Kristen Regine, a retail and marketing professor at Johnson and Wales University, says it is not the end of brick and mortar shopping experiences. And though the number of closures is expected to eclipse a previous record of 9,300 store closures last year, she does not expect the storefronts to remain empty. 

"It's not about the death of retail. It’s about the evolution of retail and how the retailer needs to show up where the consumer feels safe and confident to shop again," Regine said.

"They have to find new uses for them. This is really where the property owners need to get more creative, thinking about how to create much more multi-sensory opportunities for consumers to visit," Regine said. "It’s not about going to the Gap or your local JC Penney any longer. It’s really about what other forms of entertainment or safe spaces or places to go."

One of the ways stores are shifting to safety is curbside pickup, and Regine expects that trend to remain, even long after the pandemic has passed.

"I think that’s here to stay because it’s absolutely a convenience," Regine said. "Just like you saw some of the traditional Starbucks are closing, they’re also looking to build newer footprints which will include double drive throughs and different types of express options to make it easier on consumers to get goods they way they want."

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