Developers and others are wondering what the future holds for retail, particularly brick-and-mortar stores. 

With consumers increasingly turning to online to buy everything from household goods and clothes to furniture and small power tools, city planners, developers and others are wondering how many physical retail stores and centers will be needed in the coming years.

That’s part of the reason why the cities of West Des Moines and Clive plan to create a redevelopment plan for the University Avenue corridor, once that among Iowa’s strongest retail centers. 

But before hammering a nail into the retail coffin, senior contributor Steve Dennis for Retail, writes that sales made in physical stores will be higher this year than they were a year ago. In addition, thousands of new stores are opening (think of the GoodHomes planned for Ankeny) and sales from physical stores are helping boost online shopping.

Still, writes Dennis, pointing out the anemic second-quarter sales of Gap Inc., while “physical retail isn’t dead, boring retail is.”

“The lack of innovation and risk taking is catching up with all these retailers that watched the last 20 years happen to them,” writes Dennis. “It’s death in the middle.”