Newswise — 2016 is over, and everybody -- retailers included -- is assessing what's ahead for 2017. For retailers small and large, here's what the industry can expect in 2017, according to Christopher Lemley, a sales expert in the J. Mack Robinson College of Business at Georgia State University:

• Increased customer purchasing from online retailers, with some if not most of those sales coming at the expense of “brick and mortar” retailers.

• Increased purchasing via mobile devices. Smart retailers will keep developing and improving platforms and apps to showcase their offerings. For some retailers, it can still be a laborious task for customers to shop from a mobile device, which discourages customers.

• A return of the old “Sears Catalog Store” concept where customers could order from the catalog by mail or telephone (today, on internet at home and on mobile) and have the merchandise delivered for pickup to a local store. Already retailers such as Best Buy, Home Depot and Nordstrom’s are making investments in this at the store level and it will become ubiquitous in the near- to medium-term. This means the separation from a given retailer’s online and bricks and mortar boundaries will disappear.

• Subsequently, a smaller brick-and-mortar footprint, fewer anchor stores and closure of existing large traditional department stores.

• Decreased sales in traditional large regional shopping centers and their attendant neighboring strip malls. This will come along with an increased shopping emphasis in “experiential” centers (mixed-use developments) which have housing, restaurants, shopping, entertainment and in some cases museums seamlessly incorporated into the same property boundaries.

• Further development of secure neighborhood hubs where online merchandise can be delivered for customer pickup.

Christopher Lemley is the director of the Professional Selling and Sales Leadership Program in the J. Mack Robinson College of Business at Georgia State University in Atlanta. To reach Lemley, email him at [email protected], or call 404-413-7668.

His bio is available at