The problem is that it's much easier to just buy the thing on line, for 90% of the stuff that those stores carry. For tennis shoes, I go to zappos. For nearly everything else I go to Amazon. Food and entertainment are the only local dollars I spend. Well, OK, if I ever buy another car or appliance new, I'll go to a dealer. But that's it. No parking, no lines, no dimwit clerks, I spend 5 minutes on the transaction, the stuff arrives the next day. I know what size my clothes are, and I'm capable of tailoring them myself if the fit isn't perfect, or sending them back if I don't like them. Same for my wife. Brick and mortar stores are doomed. It's the march of progress. Not stoppable.
Not everything lends itself to being bought on-line. For example, large, bulky items. A sheet of plywood for example. Other stuff, you want to try on for fit, or to see how it looks.
Then there are items you want to have RIGHT NOW. Maybe you're in the middle of some project, whatever it might be, and you need something. You can either go somewhere and get it, or order it and wait. Now, true, on-line vendors like Amazon are starting to address this, but there are a lot of limitations on what they can do, plus they don't have everything either.
Then there are impulse buys. You're someplace, you see something interesting, and decide to get that too. Last time I was in home depot, I went in for one thing that I wanted RIGHT NOW (garden hose gasket) and ended up buying several other things. Happens to me at Costco all the time (:
Finally, some people just like to shop. Go out, look at stuff. Those people will not get their fix on-line. Going out and shopping is SOMETHING TO DO.
I don't think retail shopping will ever go away entirely - but man, the model sure does need to change. Either we need to go back to small neighborhood shops where people can go daily to pick up a few things, or we need to get rid of all the small strip malls and stuff and go to mega shopping centers that have actual stuff people want/need instead of so much CRAP. Frankly, a lot of retail stores simply need to die off. Many of them are on the list in the article the OP linked to.
Mega on-line retailers need to open up "return centers" in major metro areas. That will help them kill off local stores. People have to go somewhere to return their stuff anyway (UPS or FedEx of whatever). Why not have them return at an Amazon Depot, so it can colsolidate stuff and ship it back in bulk to their distro centers or wherever?
On that note - with the advent of on-line shopping, why do manufacturers even need retailers anyway? Either ship direct to your customers exclusively, or ship to Amazon and let it distribute for you. For example...consider Lego. Huge brand. It has on-line sales, its own stores, plus retailers all over the place. Why? Seems like Lego would do just fine if the only places you could get its products are its own stores or from Lego on-line. Screw everyone else. Same for Apple. And yet - they don't do this. Why? Clearly they feel they get more sales by doing what they do now. So why? Because people like going somewhere and seeing product in person. How long will that last? It's something to ponder.
For the most part, like-retailers are selling the same crap as their peers. So why go to one over the other? Why go to Toys 'R Us rather than some other big-ass toy store? TRU certainly doesn't have great pricing. There is nothing special about its shopping experience. So why go there? And yet people do. WHY??? But they do (:
One problem retailers have is "show casing". People go there to look at stuff and then go buy it on-line for cheaper. Maybe retailing will evolve to leverage this. Charge a membership fee to walk in the door (like Costco), assuming you're not there to buy anyway. Then rebate the fee if you've spent enough money over the course of the year. This catches "showcasers" and "entertainment shoppers" both. Then charge vendors to have their stuff in your showcase store. Then charge for parking of course (no rebate on that). Now partner with Amazon to provide a return depot and charge THEM for that service, which allows Amazon to send a truck over once per day or week or whatever to collect stuff instead of having everyone mail stuff back individually. ****, maybe Amazon ITSELF opens "show case" stores, where you can look at stuff, and maybe buy, but then wait for it to be delivered from Amazon rather than taking it home right then and there. Who knows - this might be a successful model one day. It meets the needs of a lot of people.