Billionaire mall owner: 'Amazon has been great for retail' — and here's why

At a time when retail stores have been closing due to the "Amazon effect," billionaire mall owner Rick Caruso says "Amazon has been great for retail."

"What (Amazon has) shown us is a path to success," the owner of The Grove and The Americana malls in Los Angeles told CNBC's "Squawk Alley" on Monday. "Competition just on price doesn't work. You have to compete on knowledge. You have to compete on knowing your customer. You have to compete on being convenient."

Caruso's comments come at a time when President Donald Trump has been attacking the e-commerce giant, claiming it has put other retailers out of business and has cost the U.S. Postal Service billions of dollars.

Caruso said Amazon has shown retailers how to innovate and serve customers more effectively. Retailers that are evolving in the right ways are thriving and growing, the billionaire real estate developer said.

The fact that Amazon is opening physical stores "tells us that a hybrid model where you have digital and you have (brick and mortar) retail is very important," Caruso said.

Amazon is opening brick-and-mortar stores because it knows "the social interaction with their customer – the sense of discovery and the sense of experience is critical to an overall retail strategy," he added.

Retailers that have failed, such as Toys R Us, simply stopped innovating and evolving, Caruso said. "I don't think any of us would wake up in the morning and be excited to go to Toys R Us. Many of these retailers that are suffering are suffering because they're stuck in an environment where the consumer just does not want to go."

Toys R Us was the latest major retailer to liquidate its business after declaring bankruptcy. The storied toy company is planning to close or sell all of its more than 800 stores.

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