When Will Retail Stores Die? Shopping's Future Examined

Are rumors of brick-and-mortar's death exaggerated?

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Video game publisher Electronic Arts recently made waves by asserting that retail is destined to die, with its days currently numbered thanks to the continued growth of digital distribution and download services. But as music, movie and TV fans know, despite such lofty proclamations, it isn’t game over for brick-and-mortar stores such as Best Buy, Wal-Mart or GameStop just yet.

Certainly, online vendors like iTunes, Steam and the Android Market continue to expand at an astonishing rate, and fans are increasing looking to social networks such as Facebook and cloud streaming solutions for entertainment. Many questions surrounding retail’s future have also arisen in the wake of EA’s recent purchases of casual gaming giant PopCap, creator of Plants vs. Zombies and Bejeweled, and Angry Birds publisher Chillingo. However, the story of retail’s eventual death or survival in the wake of digital vendors’ onset isn’t a simple one, nor the kind of tale likely to conclude itself in the next few months, year or even decade.

In the latest episode of technology video series Gear Up, we scrutinize both sides of the debate to determine just how much life is still left in the old plastic or cardboard case yet.