Liz Claiborne Shuttering The Latest Example Of The De-Prioritization Of The Physical Store

For a retail industry populated with execs who learned their trade in pure brick-and-mortar environments, the vertical is embracing mobile and abandoning physical stores at an impressive rate. (With the infrequent exception--such as Pier 1--proving the rule.) The latest proof point comes from the announcement Tuesday (July 20) that $3 billion Liz Claiborne is shuttering the stores that bear its name.

Closing doors is one thing. But when those doors have the corporate moniker on them, it hurts. The company is keeping open its outlet stores for other brands: Juicy Couture, Lucky Brand, Kate Spade and Kensie. Legitimate pragmatic reasons exist for the move—such as Liz Claiborne's distribution deals with JCPenney and QVC, along with its annual losses. But the decision is yet more acceptance of today's new mobile and virtual realities. Physical stores are merely one channel today--and they are often no longer the most important.