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Empty store fronts a sign of changing times, says ASU expert

(Flickr Photo)

PHOENIX — Why does the small business economy, such as strip malls, appear to be struggling locally?

Arizona is proficient at attracting big businesses complete with some of the lowest corporate and income taxes.

Dennis Hoffman, a professor at Arizona State University, said the economy is changing rather than just sputtering along.

Retail stores such as small liquor stores, shoe repair, and cleaning businesses can be among the casualties in a changing economy.

“You’re telling those small businesses not only who they can hire, but also what they can pay,” said Hoffman, a professor at ASU’s W.P. Carey School of Business.

“No state has a tougher e-verify enforcement than Arizona. This is the state that is the poster-child for enforcing undocumented labor laws.”

Hoffman said traditional retail space is being replaced by businesses who have an exclusively online presence.

The professor said the Valley’s retail space was overbuilt during the boom of the early 2000s and is only heading downward.

Now, large shopping malls are having trouble holding on to anchor tenants and small retail stores.

“Traditional small businesses that have occupied some of this retail space in the strip malls is just being replaced by deliveries online,” he said.

Arizona open and hiring: If you’re looking for job openings, visit

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