Shoppers are packed into Tysons Corner Center, a mall in suburban Washington.
Shoppers are packed into Tysons Corner Center, a mall in suburban Washington. –

As the holiday shopping rush comes to an end, hours get cut back and temporary retail workers say their farewells.

But there’s a much greater unwinding happening in retail, with thousands of workers from the sector losing their jobs. Big words are attached to this: tectonic shifts, cataclysm and for some, opportunity.

Mark Cohen, the director of Retail Studies at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Business, joined us to discuss whether this industry is actually in crisis and why these workers don’t have much of a political voice. Below is an edited transcript.

David Brancaccio: More than twice the amount of stores are closing across America than are opening up this year. This is just one statistic. Some see a retail, here’s the word, apocalypse. Is that too big a word?

Mark Cohen: The retail industry at large is just fine. Plenty of customers, they have plenty of disposable income. But inside the business, the legacy players, the department stores — they’re the ones who are facing the retail apocalypse, if you will.

Brancaccio: And if you’re a shareholder…