Bad Business

It’s a bad time for shopping and an even worse time for retailers. Tons of cash-strapped consumers are ditching malls these days, forcing dozens of popular US retailers to close hundreds of stores.

While computer haven CompUSA is closing their doors for good, Sprint Nextel is following suit by disconnecting 125 locations. It might be sharp news to hear that the gadgets and gizmo masters that make up The Sharper Image have filed for bankruptcy and are consequently shutting down 90 to 180 stores. Even our trusted furniture retailer Levitz is closing it’s doors after 98 years. Can you believe it? I loved it at Levitz.

Other retailers shutting down shops are: Ann Taylor, 117 stores; Cache, 20 to 23 stores; Talbots, 100 stores; Gap, 85 stores; Foot Locker, 140 stores; Zales, 105 stores; Disney, 98 stores; Home Depot, 15 stores; Macy's, 9 stores; Pep Boys, 33 stores; Ethan Allen, 12 stores; Wilsons, 158 stores; Pacific Sunwear, 228 stores; Bombay Company, 384 stores; and Dillards, six stores.

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It’s extremely sad, but I’m not really that surprised. Ten’s of thousands (millions) of consumers are now PREFERRING to shop online or via catalogs. The reasons are simple:

#1. Shopping either online or via catalogs saves time (with our hectic, rushed, over committed lives … we need all the extra time we can get).

#2. Shopping online allows you to quickly research and compare different brands, then once you decide on the brand … you’re able to shop around to get the best price.

#3. Catalog shopping is continuing to boom, in fact, the latest trends are for consumers to request ONLY the catalogs they desire (i.e. our premise for the entire company … receive the catalogs YOU want by requesting them) and the trend is to leisurely flip through catalog pages, then go online to place the orders. 800# call-ins are decreasing while online ordering is increasing. Yet consumers still want, desire and thrive on receiving something they can hold, touch, feel and take to bed or the bathroom with.

#4. Gas prices are outrageous. With all of the free shipping discounts available online, why drive to a store and be bothered with rude and often INCOMPETENT sales people, never finding the right size or color, and then schlepping through the parking lot and the traffic and the delays?

We are living in a cyber age, and as long as consumers have DSL and internet access at their disposal, the numbers of online sales will only continue to skyrocket. The more we choose virtual shopping over actual physical shopping, the more stores will disappear. Gives new meaning to the term “Shop ‘til they drop”.



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