As online shopping continues to increase across all product categories, including clothing, we see brick-and-mortar department stores and shopping malls falter and close. These days people can shop sites that uniquely curate, swap, flash discount and rent a wide variety of specialized brands and designer apparel. Also what is driving this switch to online shopping for clothing is free shipping, broader selection, convenience and 24/7 access. However, I don’t think we as shoppers have really thoughtfully considered all of the unintended consequences of the demise of the department store or shopping mall.
1. Shopping was my cardio!
Yes, stereotypically seniors use malls as a great place to walk in early morning. However, for serious shoppers, we can also log quite a few miles in one shopping trip. As a person who has failed many attempts to regularly incorporate exercise in my lifestyle, I like the idea that perhaps I am able to keep fit and fit into a slip dress by the time I finish shopping.
2. Less uniqueness and secret sources for scoring an outfit
A primary reward of regular clothes shopping is not only the discovery of a unique dress or blouse but also a new, specialized boutique that carries inventory not found in more mass channels. Considering the average turnover frequency of clothing boutiques, fresh sources are often opening up. But with the increase of online shopping, small, specialized boutiques are becoming rarer and the business model for online stores is inherently mass scale and so are the antithesis of uniqueness. So our loss is twofold, 1) the boutique ambiance, which is as much a part of shopping as the clothes and 2) we may soon be wearing the same outfits we all purchased online!
3. Delayed shopper gratification issue #1
With online shopping, you don’t really know if an outfit is a great find until it comes in the mail and you can try it on. There’s no surprise shopping trip experience in which you discover an item by chance, on sale and it makes your ass look like two young golden apples. So the victory is delayed and failures require a return shipping process as opposed to just walking away.
4. Delayed shopping gratification issue #2
Only in-person shopping can meet the need of the problem “I need something to wear tonight.” Online shopping simply cannot address this situation whether you come to it by procrastination, spontaneous invitations or some other issue such as just the joy of finding something you feel you must rock as soon as possible. Online shopping just don’t get it.
5. What about my Cinnabon and Frango mints?
Every department store and shopping mall has also been traditionally filled with delicious specialized foods to munch on while you shop. But when we choose to sit on our sofas and not frequent the mall, all those goodies are left behind as well. And, like I said before, with all the walking, I feel guilt-free about indulging. So perhaps online is more convenient, but I think we will be selecting one or more sizes larger after a while!