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Is American retail at a historic tipping point?

The profound reordering of New York's shopping scene reflects a broad restructuring in the industry

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The current torrent of closures comes as consumer confidence is strong and unemployment is low, suggesting that a permanent restructuring is underway, rather than a dip in the normal business cycle. In short, traditional retail may never recover.

New York

ALONG the cobblestone streets of SoHo, Chanel handbags and Arc'teryx jackets are displayed in shops like museum pieces, harking back to the height of the neighbourhood's trendiness. But rents there are softening, and the number of vacant storefronts is rising.

Today, some

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