There were three mall-related stories over the weekend that reflected changing consumer behavior and how it is getting retailers and realtors to think and act differently.

• The Wall Street Journal reported about how “mall owners long treated gyms like pool halls, unwanted tenants that attracted lower-rent visitors who were unlikely to shop. Now they’re giving health clubs some of their best real estate.

“The reason is twofold. Retailers have closed hundreds of stores across the country amid increasing competition from online shopping, leaving mall owners to grapple with declining foot traffic and rising vacancies. At the same time, fitness centers have boomed and diversified, and a proliferation of smaller, boutique gyms that draw higher-end customers have created more attractive tenants that are easier to accommodate.

“The result is that health clubs that were once pariahs at malls are helping transform them into hubs of living, working and playing.” One example: “Westfield has 33 U.S. malls, many with assets greater than $1 billion. More than half of them have some sort of health club, up from about 10% a decade ago.”

• Meanwhile, the New York Times has a story about New Jersey’s Phillipsburg Mall, writing that the Sears store there is closing its doors. “Next to Sears were rows of empty storefronts for retailers like Payless Shoes and Radio Shack, both of which have gone through bankruptcy.”

Even as some bricks-and-mortar retailers seemed to be having a hopeful Thanksgiving weekend, the scene at the Phillipsburg Mall was “bleak” and “emblematic of the difficult challenges confronting many brick and mortar retailers, which are struggling to figure out how to survive Amazon’s seemingly unstoppable march to dominate the American wallet.

“Analysts say retailers are expected to close more stores this year than at any time since the 2008 recession. The pressure from e-commerce, coupled with many retailers loading up on debt during better days, has led to a string of bankruptcies this year. Thousands of retail workers have lost their jobs. Overall employment in the retail industry has been declining since July — which economists say is highly unusual given that the economy is relatively strong.”

To be fair, the Times notes that Sears seems not to be giving up, and that “one of the company’s remodeled stores, in Wayne, N.J., was bustling on Friday morning. An employee in a red vest greeted shoppers at the door, handing out a circular showcasing the biggest deals. By noon, the checkout line was wrapped around racks of one-piece fleece pajamas and winter coats.”

• At the same time, the Los Angeles Times writes about the Sears store in wealthy Santa Monica, California, which closed last April despite - or maybe because - being located “at the terminus of the Expo light rail line, across the street from Santa Monica Place shopping center and a short walk from Santa Monica Pier,” all of which serve to help make it a prized location. But now it is being converted from “the former down-to-earth purveyor of general merchandise into a swanky place to work, eat or grab a beer.”

According to the piece, the building “is in for big changes starting with temporary removal of the roof to make way for seismic upgrades and the creation of an atrium. In the design by House & Robertson Architects, holes will be cut in the floor plates in the middle of the building to allow the atrium’s natural light to reach the basement.

“A fourth story will be added by capturing attic space between the third floor and the roof that was previously used for storage. The roof will be restored as a landscaped and furnished outdoor deck with ocean views. The roof will be an amenity for tenants of the office space for rent on the top two floors. Keys predicts that a single tenant will take all 50,000 square feet of offices.”

KC's View: It is a good lesson for every bricks-and-mortar retailer. What so many malls are going through can happen to any of them, and retailers have to be prepared to adjust many of their business methods so they can be more responsive, relevant and resonant to shoppers. The alternative is obsolescence.