PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Staples is closing 225 of its 1,846 stores by the end of next year; although, it won’t say where.

It follows news of other retailers closing some of their stores like Radio Shack, Sony, Sears, JCPenney, and K-Mart.

Shoppers are not surprised.

“Working full-time, I do find it a lot easier to shop online which is probably not the right answer. It’s hard for me to always get to the stores,” said Amber Blair, of Elizabeth.

“I still buy from inside the stores, but I think a lot of people use it just to see what it costs and then they go compare it online and end up buying it on the Internet,” added Dan Stefancin, of Scott Township.

Staples is not the only big box retail store to be shutting some of its doors.

It seems to be happening everywhere. But the larger question is why? Has the American buying public found a better alternative?

Point Park University business professor Elaine Luther says closing stores was part of the strategy.

“Many stores have already been saying, look at our online deals,” Luther told KDKA money editor Jon Delano. “They’ve been pushing people towards that, and I think in anticipation they were expecting to close some of their brick and mortar stores and save money, and it really does save a lot of money.”

And besides online convenience, customers have other reasons for avoiding the big retailers — fewer and less helpful sales clerks.

“They’re mean to customers. They’re talking on their cell phones and things like that. And so, to me, customer service is you need to pay attention to the people who are trying to buy things in your store,” said Melissa Blakey, of Beltzhoover.

“They have missed that opportunity to have specialized sales people who can really help people,” noted Prof. Luther.

So some shoppers stick to local specialty stores.

“I would shop at the mom-and-pop stores before I shop at the big ones,” said Raymond Gross, of Brighton Heights.

Whether local mom-and-pops or very specialized national chains, that could be the latest trend.

“Maybe it’s the niche marketing that is going to take over in the retail stores,” added Luther.

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