"Five years ago, if you went to the mall you went to five stores while you were there and visited. Now you go to three," he said Friday. "Why? Because you've already looked on your phone and gone, 'I want that, I want that, I want that.' And you go and buy it. So that is a big problem for traffic."
Stacey Widlitz, founder of SW Retail Advisors, expanded upon Kniffen's comments, saying online retail streamlines shopping in a way that isn't good for brick-and-mortar sales.
"I would argue forcing the consumer online actually hurts sales because you're taking away the impulse purchases," she said on CNBC's "Power Lunch."
Odland, also a former Office Depot CEO, said the fact that inventories are up and sales are down across major retailers is causing a big problem for margins.
"So you're going to see a bloodbath here," he said Friday. "Every retail CEO this morning is looking at this saying, 'OK, it's clearance time,' which means margins are going to get hammered here for the holidays and that's why the whole retail sector is down here this morning."