Forget the fluorescent-lit indoor mall that's been synonymous with shopping for years. The future of retail will look starkly different 25 years out.
Full-body scanners that take your measurements, and recommend the clothes that best fit your body. Seamless checkouts that can be done from inside the dressing room or on your mobile phone, eliminating the need to wait in line.
Innovations like these are already threatening to become mainstream. And, as consumers shift a larger chunk of their spending toward the Web—where they're offered a seemingly endless pipeline of products—experts say bricks-and-mortar locations need to undergo a complete makeover to stay relevant in future decades.
That means a different tenant mix, smaller selling floors, and technologies and experiences that give shoppers a reason to leave their couches and hit the aisles.
"Retail has to evolve on a regular basis or it faces extinction. It's just the way it is," said Dan Hurwitz, CEO of open-air shopping center owner DDR. "While the challenges may be different, the need to evolve … is just as important today as it's ever been, if not more so."
The significant shift that lies ahead for the industry is already underway. As ubiquitous mall tenants from Sears to RadioShack shutter stores and consumers shop more online, experts agree there will likely be fewer malls by 2039.