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MIAMI (CBSMiami) — Turkey is just one tradition for the Thanksgiving holiday; many stores will open Thursday night for shoppers looking to get a jump on Black Friday sales.

However, many stores, the so-called brick and mortar retailers, are struggling against online competition so they are looking for creative ways to get shoppers in the door.

At the Eddie Bauer store in Columbus Ohio, the retail environment is decidedly chilly. Freezing, in fact: They created an icebox chilled to 16 degrees, so customers can try out their cold-weather gear, something that cannot be done online.

Eric from Eddie Bauer said that people come to the icebox for repeat visits and not just for the novelty.

“Yeah, to test out the outerwear, for sure. That’s what it’s intended for. It’s just a great experience.”

Like Eddie Bauer, retailers across the country are looking for ways to lure customers offline and into their stores.

Melisa Miller, Executive Vice President and President of Card Services at Alliance Data, which helps businesses market to customers and try to retain them, said, “The brands that are winning have figured that out and are creating unique experiences for the consumer in the store.

“It could be a makeover. It could be ‘Meet the Chef.’ It could be decorating services.”

It’s why Saks had its Wellery pop up — part fitness center, part-shopping experience.

In addition, Macy’s is collaborating with Samsung at its flagship store in New York in the hopes that virtual reality turns into actual sales.

Empty stores aren’t sustainable, but novel efforts to coax customers through the doors come with risks.

“If it seems like a gimmick, today’s customer sees right through it,” said Mark Cohen, Director of Retail Studies at Columbia University. “They might check it out once, but they’re not going to be responsive to it. And more so than ever before, they have choices. Increasingly they can transact anywhere in the world just with the stroke of a key.”

It is estimated that in the next five years, one in four U.S. malls will close so the efforts to get people to shop in stores is urgent for these retailers.


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