The End Of Retail Shopping
Are you prepared for the imminent demise of retail shopping as we know it?
The extinction of brick and mortar retail stores is on the horizon. In the past few years in Canada we have seen some giants fall; Eatons, Sears, Zellers, Radio Shack and Target Canada. These are just the tip of the iceberg. The entire economic model of revenue and profitability for retailers and the suppliers they do business with is collapsing under its own weight and soon will no longer function. The traditional ways of selling retail is antiquated compared to the low cost alternative of wholesale direct to consumer via e-commerce. Profit margins are no longer eaten up by the middleman. Monthly rent, salespeople and supplies for running a traditional brick and mortar store are no longer required. Those can all be replaced by a fulfillment company and some decent marketing.
Oh sure, some people claim that certain brick and mortar stores are doing well.
Whole Foods and Apple stores are the two I hear mentioned regularly out of the thousands of stores than exist. Two out of 10,000? Not very good odds.
I enjoy shopping at Whole Foods. I don’t shop there regularly as they are too far from my home but I will drop in when I’m nearby and eat. They have great take-out or eat-in, their organic and vegan selections are wonderful and the merchandising is top rate. I like the Whole Food’s experience. Apple? Not-so-much. I go there strictly out of necessity because I have a problem with my computer or phone. Otherwise, I find it frustrating and time consuming. Do you enjoy going to an Apple store?
This week I decided to walk into a mall and a regular retail store.
I don’t often visit many retail stores or malls as I spend my time shopping secondhand. I’ve lost touch with what is happening in traditional brick and mortar stores. Not too long ago I was addicted to visiting Anthropologie due to the unique artistic shopping experience and inspiration they offered. They have since become as boring as any other retail store and I stopped visiting. If retailers are to survive they need to offer me an exciting, unique shopping experience.
The retail store I visited was DSW. I knew instantly that something was up. They had half the inventory they had a year ago. Town Shoes, originally a large Canadian shoe chain bought several years ago by DSW, is closing all of their locations. This means that DSW is having profitability issues in Canada and is streamlining their costs. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the entire chain declare bankruptcy within Canada in the next year or so.
Did this make me sad? A little bit. I had shopped at Town Shoes and DSW in the past and appreciated their large selection. Buying shoes secondhand can be a challenge. I’m not a fan of buying shoes online as I find they are difficult to get exactly right as fit is so important. My husband was very disappointed as he is a shoe lover and had purchased quite a few items from that store.
The mall I visited had many vacant stores.
I would estimate that 30-40% of the space was vacant. The mall is large and had just undergone an extensive, costly renovation. Of the stores that remained I only recognized a few. I noticed that much of the space was taken up by service oriented businesses such a wireless providers, health care offices and beauty salons or spas. It certainly wasn’t a mall I would want to visit again any time soon. One of their anchor stores was Sears so I am sure that is part of the reason the mall is suffering.
Am I prepared to see a complete obliteration of what we have come to know as the retail shopping experience?
Even as an avid thrifter and secondhand shopper this worries me. What will happen to all of those jobs? I fear this will gravely impact our already struggling economy.
What about you? How do you feel when yet another retail chain or store goes belly-up? Are the malls near you failing?