I work in retail, and most importantly, I work in a brick and mortar, not e-commerce. As a retail employee, I would like for people to stop shopping online and start shopping in person.
As a consumer, a customer…someone who shops, I’m going to have to agree with myself. I love being able to see my options online as much as the next guy, but there is nothing like seeing, touching, and feeling the product I will be purchasing.
I want to give a disclaimer and say that there is absolutely nothing wrong with shopping online. As a matter of fact, shopping online for things like paper, water containers, and home goods is not a bad thing, Amazon does a great job of setting prices and giving the customer a vast product selection. Target is not the one going bankrupt in this picture.
I am referring to when you’re shopping for clothes, glasses, luxury goods, and devices. It is so much better to go into the said [brand store] and getting to experience the brand for itself.
Retail stores have been suffering a lot for the past two years, it is a phenomenon otherwise known as “The Retail Apocalypse.” I understand that there are many contributing factors to “The Retail Apocalypse.” These factors include rising rents, and the ever-changing spending habits of many North Americans.
However, according to an article by “The Atlantic” titled “What in the World Is Causing the Retail Meltdown of 2017?” there have been as many as 9 retail bankruptcies in 2017 alone. These bankruptcies included stores such as J.C. Penny, Radioshack, Macy’s, and Sears. More recently, we heard Forever 21 announce that they’d be filing for bankruptcy as well.
And every year, it seems like more brick and mortar stores are preforming poorly. What could be the reason you ask? Online stores like Amazon, Walmart. Even the secondhand websites are taking over like TheRealReal and Poshmark. People are no longer paying full price for anything; they want a deal, they want the convenience and they want it fast.
E-commerce shoppers even engage in behaviors like making a big purchase online and trying it on at home and returning it to the store after they’ve decided which piece to keep.
When I worked at a Michael Kors store in San Francisco’s Sunset neighborhood, this was happening every day for me. People took advantage of shopping online and bringing me the items they did not want, which in turn, hurt our business. People even went as far as to come into the store, try things on, take pictures, send it to their friends and then tell me that “They’ll just buy it online.” Eventually in early 2018 we had to close our doors.
I then went on to work for a small boutique in the Hayes Valley neighborhood of San Francisco. This store sold all kinds of brands. You could see Y-3, Acne, Nudie, A.P.C., Stine Goya, Mara Hoffman, Alexander Wang and so many more recognizable luxury fashion brands. It was interesting to work at this location because it was more of a family neighborhood as opposed to working inside of a shopping mall. But time after time, people just couldn’t justify making a purchase at our boutique. We even had customers take pictures, look up the item online to see if they could find it for less money, which many of times they did and left without making a purchase. We too, eventually closed our doors in June of 2019 after 8 years of business.
When you shop online, no one gets to help you decide on your purchase. You do not get “the shopping experience” that so many retail stores are willing to give to their customers.
By shopping in person at boutiques, and even some brand stores, you are supporting that brand/shop and you are supporting people getting to keep their jobs in retail. You can make your shopping trip a good experience by going with friends. You can also be receptive to the people who greet you instead of nodding them off with a “just looking.”
It is expected that 8,200 stores will close in 2019 compared to the 6,700 in 2017 (CNN.) In a time where unemployment is just below 4% and the economy is a bit stronger than before, this is unacceptable. Retail is responsible for more than 10% of jobs nationwide (CNN.)
I encourage you to go out, have a browse at the mall or your favorite neighborhood and just shop in person. You are practically most likely going to spend the same amount of money than if you purchased online (with shipping charges.) Keep in mind to make it an experience for yourself. If someone wants to help you, take their help. It is what makes shopping… fun.