Empty parking lots and fewer shoppers.

It's a deadly combination that sealed the fate of three Macy's Department stores in the Houston area. Macy's stores at West Oaks Mall, Pasadena Town Square and Greenspoint Mall will all be closed by the end of the year.

It's no surprise to business experts. They say it's smart.

"Marketers follow customers, and customers are sitting at the computer or on their phone and they're buying stuff that way," said Professor Betsy Gelb, with UH Bauer School of Business. "It makes sense to divert money from brick and mortar stores to online marketing."

It's yet another blow to these onetime major shopping centers. With Macy's leaving, the fear is that the already struggling malls will take a dive. To survive, Gelb says malls need to innovate.

"Malls are making themselves into entertainment centers so that there's more going on there then just the opportunity to shop," said Gelb.

KHOU 11 News reached out to all three malls but only West Oaks Mall responded writing in part, "From a development perspective, the vacancy provides an opportunity for West Oaks to re-balance with more service based retailers, restaurants, entertainment uses and explore multi-family living as we look to the long-term health of this established Houston shopping destination."

"You can't rule out that they'll do fine with that space, or not, it depends on the mall," said Gelb.

Gelb says Macy's loss could possible be other retailers gain.

"There are retailers in West Oaks that are cheering to some extent and saying the people that come here, if they can't come to Macy's maybe they'll be walking in our doors," said Gelb.

When the dust settles after Macy's business moves and store closures, about 10,000 employees will have lost their jobs.

"They can't run a successful online business without people," said Gelb. "So for sure, for some people it's job loss, for some people it's job opportunity if you're looking at the national picture."