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Brands born on the internet embrace physical stores

In this Nov. 2, 2018 photo, a sales associate is seen through a window display helping a customer try on a parka at the Mall at Short Hills in Short Hills, N.J. Like many malls, this shopping complex is offering more immersive shopping experiences. Outerwear brand Canada Goose unveiled a store with a “cold room” where customers can try on its $1,000 parkas in sub-zero temperatures. (AP Photo/Ted Shaffrey)

SHORT HILLS, N.J. (AP) — A growing number of brands born on the internet, from Casper to Indochino, are opening physical stores and moving into suburban malls once considered doomed as more Americans shop online.

Digital natives are discovering that it’s become more expensive to acquire customers through banner ads and email giveaways. At the same time, opening a store has become more affordable as mall vacancies force landlords to offer flexible leases and other perks. Jim Ward, who heads up recruiting for online brands for mall owner CBL, says it can be 10 times as expensive to acquire a new customer online as it is in a store.

Store openings are a major shift for once online-only brands that until recently believed they didn’t need a physical presence to generate robust sales growth.

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