Aisle Of Wit

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Shop ‘Til You Crop?

Yesterday I did a little food shopping.  I bought a few staples at Pavilion’s, early in the morning to optimize time waiting in line but dodging delivery people, boxes of items being loaded onto the shelves and not having access to an available manager to ask questions about anything new that caught my eye that I was curious about.   I spent less than I wanted to, harrumphed my way through a baseless conversation with a jaded checkout lady, and came away disappointed and knowing I still had items on my list I’d have to find tine to schlep somewhere else to find.

Later in the day I had a personalized online consultation with a perky representative from Daily Harvest, a relatively new company based upon providing healthy meals with an emphasis on fruits, vegetables and organic ingredients.  She knew what I purchased previously, answered questions about my concerns with my reactions to certain foods I had tried and then recommended some new items that were alternatives.   She also told me that because of my dissatisfaction with a couple of my previous purchaes they were extending me credit toward trying some of those new items at no cost.  I wound up buying a little more than I had counted on–including some of the meals that I had otherwise planned to buy ingredients for at Pavilion’s.  And no, the markup wasn’t significant, considering the ease of the experience and the peace of mind in knowing what I bought would be ideal for me.

I’m apparently not alone in changing how, where and when I shop, and the impact on traditional retail businesses on mindsets like mine is escalating and alarming. According to Business Insider, nearly 3000 traditional brick-and-mortar stores will close by the end of this year, and per UBS it is predicted that another 80,000 more will close.  The Week reported on the “retail apocalypse” that, per Green Street Advisors, will see nearly half of all mall stores close by year’s end.

Last year’s holiday shopping season was at the height of the initial wave of the pandemic, forcing even the least tech-savvy consumers to embrace the likes of Amazon and other e-commerce sites to simply buy presents for the loved ones they would only see on a screen.  This year there will likely be more in-person meals and hugs, but the presents (and even the home-cooked meals) won’t be packed tightly in the suitcases and trunks they travel in.  If there are far fewer stores to physically shop in, and far better deals to be had simply through a few clickstrokes, why would anyone actually want to go anywhere but their desk to get their holiday gifting done?

We are not only changing where we shop, we are changing how we shop.  I have also recently embraced Poshmark, a reselling site that is capitalizing on what is clearly an inexorcable move toward second-hand shopping that has strong foundations in the critical 18-29 year old market but yet has bled to those of us a notch older.  I wanted to buy a fleece sweatshirt for an upcoming trip to a colder destination.  Entered in the specifics of what size and team I wanted, found a few options.  Saw a price; countered a few times.  Eventually settled on a price about 20% lower than the original price point.  It’s heading for my door as I type.  No hassles about something being out of stock or a sale price not being honored.

Millions of shoppers have become smarter and savvier about what they buy, how much they spend on it and, most of all, the budgeting of their time.  Malls are disappearing or, in some cases, being turned into housing sites for homeless.  If that’s not a recipe for a happier holiday season, I don’t know what else is.  With the possible exception of a mall Santa not getting to experience the joy of a rambunctious toddler jumping up and down on their prosthetic belly begging for a doll they not only won’t deliver but may not be able to afford for themselves, doesn’t it seem like everybody wins when shopping is redefined?

I’ll see you at the bins.  (Oh, what’s that?  That’s a future post 🙂 )

Until next time…