It's a turbulent time for the retail sector with several closures — including Target, Mexx and Jones New York  — but that could be a sign of transformation, not collapse, says a professor at Carleton University's Sprott School of Business.

Retail chains that are going out of business are those that are the weakest in "a very viciously competitive space," said Ian Lee.

Ian Lee Sprott business carleton

Ian Lee is a professor at Carleton University's Sprott School of Business. (CBC)

"We must distinguish the firm churn or firm changes within firms jockeying for position versus structural shifts within the industry," Lee said. 

"There's a huge amount of churn, not just employees, but companies, as the less dynamic and less competitive firms get eaten up and killed or knocked off by the more competitive firms."

Even with an increasing number of empty window fronts, spaces for lease and steep discounts in Ottawa, there are also multimillion-dollar expansions at locations such as the Rideau Centre and Bayshore Shopping Centre.

For more on this story, click on the video in the player above from reporter Sandra Abma.