Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 02-26-2020, 04:44 PM
Aeschines is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: Indianapolis, Indiana
Posts: 6,872

It funny and sad to see retail try to save itself


We know a lot of these stores are dying, but when you hear the spin from the companies, it's pretty pathetic.

JC Penney boots its Chief Customer Officer after less than a year on the job:

https://www.retaildive.com/news/jc-p...s-down/573013/

Quote:
CEO Jill Soltau said in a statement at the time of his hire that Gensch "fills a vital component" of Penney's executive team.

"Shawn will be instrumental in developing a compelling brand identity that builds meaningful connections with new shoppers, and strengthens relationships with our most loyal customers," she said.
They gotta pretend, right? Department stores don't have "meaningful connections" with customers. Maybe some high-end stores? But Lord & Taylor and Barney's are perishing as well.

JC Penney never had a "compelling brand identity"--not even when it was doing well. It had *positioning*--a decent store that wasn't K-Mart but had affordable clothes. It maybe had a certain culture that engendered a certain type of experience that worked for people as late as the early 2000s, maybe? The idea that it can build such a brand identity now--a modern 21st century style BRAND--is, well, a scam. The execs very well know it's impossible, but they need to pretend in order to draw their paychecks.

If you're interested in the death of retail as I am, then the site www.retaildive.com is worth taking a look at (not a paid endorsement).

Examples like the one above are infinite these days. Feel free to comment and contribute however you like!
  #2  
Old 02-26-2020, 04:58 PM
Snowboarder Bo's Avatar
Snowboarder Bo is offline
Member
 
Join Date: May 2005
Location: Las Vegas
Posts: 28,935
Fry's Electronics isn't even trying to save themselves; they're just existing until they don't anymore.
  #3  
Old 02-26-2020, 05:09 PM
Aeschines is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: Indianapolis, Indiana
Posts: 6,872
Quote:
Originally Posted by Snowboarder Bo View Post
Fry's Electronics isn't even trying to save themselves; they're just existing until they don't anymore.
Are they doing poorly? It's usually safe to assume a chain is on the rocks until evidence proves otherwise...

Fry's always struck me as kinda just existing anyway. It's an odd place.
  #4  
Old 02-26-2020, 06:05 PM
Pork Rind's Avatar
Pork Rind is online now
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2001
Location: Santa Barbara
Posts: 2,720
Quote:
Originally Posted by Aeschines View Post
Are they doing poorly? It's usually safe to assume a chain is on the rocks until evidence proves otherwise...

Fry's always struck me as kinda just existing anyway. It's an odd place.
Have you been in a Fry's recently? They're barren. I don't just mean they're devoid of customers, they literally have almost no product on the shelves.

https://www.thelayoff.com/frys-electronics
https://www.sfchronicle.com/business...s-14945559.php
https://www.mercurynews.com/2019/09/...empty-shelves/
  #5  
Old 02-26-2020, 06:11 PM
Wesley Clark's Avatar
Wesley Clark is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 23,447
It worked for Apple and Harley Davidson.
__________________
Sometimes I doubt your commitment to sparkle motion
  #6  
Old 02-26-2020, 06:20 PM
begbert2 is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Idaho
Posts: 14,092
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wesley Clark View Post
It worked for Apple and Harley Davidson.
Apple and Harley create a product. You can get attached to a company's products. It's a bit harder to get attached to the building the product was sitting in when you acquired it.

About the closest a reseller can come is to get people attached to their service. Which is tough, since "you can shop from your couch without pants on" is hard to compete with.
  #7  
Old 02-26-2020, 06:46 PM
Aeschines is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: Indianapolis, Indiana
Posts: 6,872
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pork Rind View Post
Have you been in a Fry's recently? They're barren. I don't just mean they're devoid of customers, they literally have almost no product on the shelves.

https://www.thelayoff.com/frys-electronics
https://www.sfchronicle.com/business...s-14945559.php
https://www.mercurynews.com/2019/09/...empty-shelves/
Seems bad!
  #8  
Old 02-26-2020, 07:56 PM
blondebear is online now
Shouting Grasshopper
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Location: Meridian/280
Posts: 14,628
Quote:
Originally Posted by Aeschines View Post
Seems bad!
Oh yeah, Fry's is really depressing nowadays. They should change their name to Leftovers or What Remains.

Last edited by blondebear; 02-26-2020 at 07:57 PM.
  #9  
Old 02-26-2020, 08:50 PM
Jophiel's Avatar
Jophiel is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 1999
Location: Chicago suburbia
Posts: 19,855
Huh. I was talking to a friend recently and he typed:
Ugh. So depressing. I'm at Fry's at 6pm on a Friday and there are maybe 5 other people in the whole huge place. Its silent in here except for the music
Shelves hardly stocked

...I didn't think much of it since I don't think much about Fry's in general but now I read this thread, so there ya go.
  #10  
Old 02-26-2020, 10:45 PM
cmore is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2020
Posts: 132
I went to our local mall the other day, to Dillards specifically. it was just a regular evening, and Dillards was packed. people were lined up at the register's, sales associates everywhere - I was impressed. and when I left there I walked thru the mall for a second, including the food court. was as crowded as I ever remember seeing it. so not everyone is doing bad.

there have been some stores that had existed and no longer do, Sears for example, but I'm sure they've got someone in the place they formerly occupied.

*this is a good sized mall with lots of stores. it was built in the late 70's. it looked no different regarding customer presence than it ever has. there's some other malls in town though that have or are in their death spiral.

I personally don't see much that's funny about retail stores failing due to all of the obstacles they face nowadays. I'm someone who buys brick and mortar entirely, save for my first and only use of Amazon a few weeks back. If it wasn't for the hurry I was in and not being able to get this part for a customer elsewhere that I'd found, I wouldn't have used them yet still. I'll gladly pay 20% more for something for the satisfaction of not further enriching Jeff Bezos.
  #11  
Old 02-27-2020, 12:15 AM
Little Nemo is online now
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Dec 1999
Location: Western New York
Posts: 85,122
Quote:
Originally Posted by cmore View Post
I went to our local mall the other day, to Dillards specifically. it was just a regular evening, and Dillards was packed. people were lined up at the register's, sales associates everywhere - I was impressed. and when I left there I walked thru the mall for a second, including the food court. was as crowded as I ever remember seeing it. so not everyone is doing bad.
When you say "the other day" do you mean 1988?
  #12  
Old 02-27-2020, 12:16 AM
Snowboarder Bo's Avatar
Snowboarder Bo is offline
Member
 
Join Date: May 2005
Location: Las Vegas
Posts: 28,935
One of our 4 malls in Las Vegas had a Dillards, a Sears, a JCPenney and a Macy's as recently as a few years ago. Now, the Boulevard Mall is mostly a hospital, except where it's a museum and a kids playpen/pizza joint.
  #13  
Old 02-27-2020, 02:19 AM
Asuka is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2016
Posts: 1,534
I had a chemistry teacher back in the late 90's who would read the newspaper at his desk while students came before the bell and every so often he would make a remark about how JC Penny was having constant 50% off sales and that "Any place that has a clearance sale every day is something that's going out of business soon". He also claimed that nobody in China is fat because "they all ride bicycles everywhere", those are the only two things I remember from his class.
  #14  
Old 02-27-2020, 03:20 AM
Broomstick's Avatar
Broomstick is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: NW Indiana
Posts: 30,018
I work in retail. Here, paraphrased, the current party line from corporate headquarters:

There is not one thing we sell in our stores that our customers can't buy elsewhere. If we want to stay in business we have to give them a reason to come our store to buy what they want rather than go down the street to some other place to buy that very same thing, or onto the internet to buy that very same thing.

Hence the constant drum-beating about customer service and keeping the place neat, clean, tidy, and stocked. Sure, we sell food, which is always going to be a draw on some level but we are far from the only place doing that. It's kind of frightening when you think about it, even if my employer is currently in the black.
  #15  
Old 02-27-2020, 04:35 AM
zbuzz is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jul 2001
Posts: 1,279
Quote:
Originally Posted by Asuka View Post
I had a chemistry teacher back in the late 90's who would read the newspaper at his desk while students came before the bell and every so often he would make a remark about how JC Penny was having constant 50% off sales and that "Any place that has a clearance sale every day is something that's going out of business soon".
Those fake sales were actually propping up JC Penney. Customers liked feeling like they had gotten a bargain (even if in reality they probably hadn't) and that kept them coming back. JCP was still struggling overall, but it was killing off the fake sales in around 2012 in favor of simple, "fair and square" pricing that pushed them out of the frying pan and into the dumpster fire.
  #16  
Old 02-27-2020, 06:16 AM
Manda JO is online now
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Jul 1999
Posts: 11,905
Quote:
Originally Posted by Little Nemo View Post
When you say "the other day" do you mean 1988?
There are malls that are still doing very well. Not nearly as many, but some. The exact formula is not clear, but there appears to be a sort of winnowing process: the niche is much smaller than it was, and malls require a critical mass, so in an area that used to have 4-5, one will survive.

In Dallas, at least, it seems to be the nicer ones, the ones with really high end stores along with the more normal options.
  #17  
Old 02-27-2020, 06:39 AM
ftg's Avatar
ftg is online now
Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2001
Location: Not the PNW :-(
Posts: 21,670
Our local Fry's closed in early December. It didn't even last the big shopping season. Local tax records show it sold then for $18k. Which would be the value of the property - mortgage and other debt on it. In other words, they were flying on the edge.

There were rumors that the whole chain was shutting down this month but that isn't happening. Yet another store closing announcement here.

I hadn't been there in years and went to MicoCenter for all my brick-and-mortar electronics needs. I haven't seen any indication that MicroCenter is crashing.

It all comes down to management.

JC Penney picked a complete idiot of a CEO several years back. They went from "in a bit of trouble" to "bleeding badly" in no time.

I haven't been to our area mall in a long, long, long time. Maybe the next time I need batteries I'll go to the Radio Shack there.
  #18  
Old 02-27-2020, 07:41 AM
JcWoman is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2014
Location: Virginia
Posts: 2,103
It's a topic that fascinates me, ever since I opened my online retail shop in 2016. It's doing better than ever, although still small enough that I can handle all the tasks of running it single-handedly. I'm carrying a small amount of inventory in my house and have ambitions to grow it enough that I have to move it out into it's own place. I haven't yet decided if I want to get into a retail space, which is still very expensive, or a warehouse/mixed use location which costs less but has no foot traffic.

I think there is still a place for tiny local businesses, but it is extremely hard to compete with Amazon. My best selling items, which not coincidentally are keeping me afloat, can't be found on Amazon.

[QUOTE]There is not one thing we sell in our stores that our customers can't buy elsewhere. If we want to stay in business we have to give them a reason to come our store to buy what they want rather than go down the street to some other place to buy that very same thing, or onto the internet to buy that very same thing.

Hence the constant drum-beating about customer service and keeping the place neat, clean, tidy, and stocked.[\QUOTE]

While true, those drum beats are about the bare minimum these days and isn't enough to justify shopping with you versus someone else. These days you have to offer concierge level of service. But to be honest, I don't think that's scalable which is why the large companies are faltering. The larger you get the more it costs. Just using my teensy shop as an example, I spend time carefully selecting which products I carry rather than just jumping on commodities. I also respond to customer emails within an hour (during the day, several hours if they contact me at night). When I vend at in-person events, I invite my customers to try on things because I know people want to touch and hold and see how things look and wear. I have a very pleasant and warm attitude as I offer to help them. I will even adjust a dog harness to fit their dog just so they can see how it fits and if they still decide not to buy it I am cheerful. However, 98% of the time this level of service lands me the sale.

I'm learning as I go, though, so I can't claim to know it all. But all of this is working for me so far.

Last edited by JcWoman; 02-27-2020 at 07:42 AM.
  #19  
Old 02-27-2020, 08:52 AM
Kovitlac is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Oct 2019
Posts: 587
Quote:
Originally Posted by cmore View Post
I went to our local mall the other day, to Dillards specifically. it was just a regular evening, and Dillards was packed. people were lined up at the register's, sales associates everywhere - I was impressed. and when I left there I walked thru the mall for a second, including the food court. was as crowded as I ever remember seeing it. so not everyone is doing bad.

there have been some stores that had existed and no longer do, Sears for example, but I'm sure they've got someone in the place they formerly occupied.

*this is a good sized mall with lots of stores. it was built in the late 70's. it looked no different regarding customer presence than it ever has. there's some other malls in town though that have or are in their death spiral.

I personally don't see much that's funny about retail stores failing due to all of the obstacles they face nowadays. I'm someone who buys brick and mortar entirely, save for my first and only use of Amazon a few weeks back. If it wasn't for the hurry I was in and not being able to get this part for a customer elsewhere that I'd found, I wouldn't have used them yet still. I'll gladly pay 20% more for something for the satisfaction of not further enriching Jeff Bezos.
I'm really sad, seeing the state of my local mall. It gets packed during the holiday season, but the rest of the time it feels so quiet and barren. So many stores have left it feels like every other space is empty. The ones that remain are the ones that have been there for years.

Amazon and the like are super convenient, and I'm the first one to try and nab a cheaper price. But if it's something I'd rather get sooner or really browse over (or virtually any type of clothing), I'd love to get it in-store. My options for that are fading more and more, though.
  #20  
Old 02-27-2020, 08:56 AM
kayaker's Avatar
kayaker is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: Rural Western PA
Posts: 34,249
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kovitlac View Post
I'm really sad, seeing the state of my local mall.
I occasionally go to Sam's Club to buy my huge things of toilet paper and paper towels. Last time there I stopped at the Pittsburgh Mills Mall (Rte 28) to see what was up there.

It was pretty much empty. There were groups of senior citizens in track suits walking for exercise, but that was about it. Many of the stores were closed down. It was like a ghost town.
  #21  
Old 02-27-2020, 08:59 AM
Ashtura is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 2,795
This is one of those things that get you questioning America's "greatness". I know the purchasing is still happening and has just shifted, but damn, is it depressing to see places going out of business left and right.
  #22  
Old 02-27-2020, 09:33 AM
WOOKINPANUB's Avatar
WOOKINPANUB is offline
Member
 
Join Date: May 2005
Location: St Petersburg, Floriduhhh
Posts: 7,404
I only see the sad. Same as watching newspapers (and proper journalism itself)disappear into the ether.

Shopping online has its place - goodness knows I do it myself- but bricks and mortars have an equally important role, imo.
  #23  
Old 02-27-2020, 09:55 AM
TruCelt's Avatar
TruCelt is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: Near Washington, DC
Posts: 11,842
There's an entire mall near me that is closing. It's called Landmark Mall, and it was the set for a big part of the recent Wonderwoman movie.

To my mind, this isn't your typical retail failure. This mall has been around since the early '60s, when it was an outdoor shopping center. It was always extremely successful. Million$ were spent enclosing it and adding levels to it.

Location? It is just a few miles from the heaviest traffic intersection in the Western Hemisphere. It is surrounded by very dense residential land - mostly high-rise condominiums.

So what killed it? I think it was Sears. When the Sears automotive scandal hit, the whole mall lost it's shine. It also had a Macy's, but that space is now a homeless shelter. The nicer boutiques left as soon as their leases were up, and only low-level dollar stores and seedy consignment shops would take their places.

I firmly believe that if they could have kicked Sears out the moment they lost the public's trust, the mall would still be thriving. But those super long-term leases that they give to the anchor stores don't have an integrity clause.

On the other side of this equation, I see strip malls around the area killing businesses left and right. Good restaurants and popular shops close all the time and the answer is always the same "They have raised the rent beyond our ability to stay open." Landlords push prices too high and end up creating a lose-lose situation. The end product is always a shopping center full of businesses surviving off the original investment, and which will never be profitable unless the rent goes down.

But I am flummoxed by the number of retail businesses that could easily add a website to increase their sales. Every one of these shops has large swaths of time when they must remain open, but their employees are just waiting for customers. It seems like it would be so easy to set up a small fulfillment station behind the counter and let them fill internet orders during that time period. Yes, it would take some balancing, and you might have to hire a night crew if the internet orders took off, but where is the downside to that?
  #24  
Old 02-27-2020, 10:05 AM
Dewey Finn is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 30,145
Keep in mind that although Amazon is seen as the retail killer, most stuff is still bought in bricks and mortar stores. Although note that this includes stuff like groceries, cars and other goods that are harder to buy online.
  #25  
Old 02-27-2020, 10:15 AM
Tom Tildrum is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: Falls Church, Va.
Posts: 14,083
In the DC area, a few big malls are thriving, and they are increasingly integrating themselves with hotels, residential high-rises, and offices. Smaller malls are withering.

Dillards seems to be busy whenever I've been there. It has a brand identity like Nordstrom, for great service and a great shoe department.

Electronics around here is mostly just Best Buy and Micro Center. The Circuit City chain died several years ago, and another electronics company called HH Gregg took over a lot of their spaces. They went under quickly as well. A local company called Belmont had been around for 75 years and just closed. It was commonly described as "beloved," but I had always found them to be overpriced, with obnoxious salespeople.
  #26  
Old 02-27-2020, 10:26 AM
Annie-Xmas is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2000
Location: New Jersey
Posts: 59,680
Welcome to the Retail Apocalypse. I don't think it can be stopped. Walk down the main street of any town and see how many vacant stores there are. People could be working in those stores.

I work in a high end discount store. I hope it stays open.
  #27  
Old 02-27-2020, 10:53 AM
Little Nemo is online now
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Dec 1999
Location: Western New York
Posts: 85,122
Quote:
Originally Posted by Manda JO View Post
There are malls that are still doing very well. Not nearly as many, but some. The exact formula is not clear, but there appears to be a sort of winnowing process: the niche is much smaller than it was, and malls require a critical mass, so in an area that used to have 4-5, one will survive.

In Dallas, at least, it seems to be the nicer ones, the ones with really high end stores along with the more normal options.
I don't feel we're seeing a winnowing process, where the weaker malls will close and the stronger malls will survive. I think we're seeing an extinction process, where the weaker malls will close first and the stronger malls will close later.

As you noted, there's a critical mass issue. It's not like a video store, for example, where one stubborn owner can refuse to accept he's working in a dying industry and can keep his store open. Keeping a mall open requires dozens of businesses.
  #28  
Old 02-27-2020, 11:01 AM
RaftPeople is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: 7-Eleven
Posts: 6,852
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dewey Finn View Post
Keep in mind that although Amazon is seen as the retail killer, most stuff is still bought in bricks and mortar stores. Although note that this includes stuff like groceries, cars and other goods that are harder to buy online.
Clearly online is convenient and taking sales from brick and mortar, but it's more complex than that, here is some data:
1 - ALL of online sales represent about 10% of all retail sales.

2 - Companies opening new brick and mortar stores are 5x the number of companies closing stores (75% of closures are from some small number of companies). But new store opening tends to be smaller.

3 - Restaurant sales (part of retail), represent strong growth (implies shifting spending patterns from goods to experiences is a significant factor in the shifting retail landscape)

4 - Brick and mortar presence appears to increase online and overall (e.g. Target)
  #29  
Old 02-27-2020, 11:10 AM
KneadToKnow is offline
Voodoo Adult (Slight Return)
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2000
Location: Charlotte, NC, USA
Posts: 27,064
Actual ad campaign: "There's always parking at Sears."

Unstated truth behind said campaign: "Because no one's shopping there."
  #30  
Old 02-27-2020, 11:45 AM
Kent Clark's Avatar
Kent Clark is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Apr 1999
Posts: 27,757
[QUOTE=JcWoman;22161614]

Quote:
There is not one thing we sell in our stores that our customers can't buy elsewhere. If we want to stay in business we have to give them a reason to come our store to buy what they want rather than go down the street to some other place to buy that very same thing, or onto the internet to buy that very same thing.

Hence the constant drum-beating about customer service and keeping the place neat, clean, tidy, and stocked.[\QUOTE]
I worked with the corporate staff of Venture Stores when they began their death spiral in the 1990s. (Remember, this was before the era of Amazon.) The CEO and corporate VPs constantly screamed about maintaining the levels of customer service, store cleanliness, adequate stocking, etc. However, good customer service costs money. The stores gradually got more poorly staffed, shelves were restocked more slowly, and the Venture/Target comparisons tilted more and more toward Target. In the end it was poor corporate decisions that doomed Venture, but store-level problems had already alienated their customers.
  #31  
Old 02-27-2020, 11:57 AM
bump is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jun 2000
Location: Dallas, TX
Posts: 19,388
I think malls dying out and brick and mortar retail dying out are two nearly separate things. Malls are dying out due to the combined impacts of two things- internet sales AND the rise of big box stores. Big box stores take the lower-end of the mall traffic, while internet stores and more specialized retailers take the higher-end traffic.

Look at it this way- if you need a basketball, are you going to go to the local mall to go to the sporting goods store, or are you going to go to Target, Wal-Mart or Amazon to buy one? Same for underwear, books, barbecuing spatulas, jeans, etc... And if you need something specific like say... a camping stove, it's likely that you're going to go either find it online, or you're going to go to REI or a specialized backpacking shop.

So while malls are an idea whose time has passed, brick and mortar retail is still just fine, but morphed into the present-day format of big box stores and extremely specialized stores.
  #32  
Old 02-27-2020, 12:02 PM
pullin is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: N Texas
Posts: 3,254
There has been a fundamental shift in employees from the "olden" days. In the past, sales clerks knew more about their products than I did. This situation has reversed, and I find myself facing friendly, but inexperienced min-wage workers who, quite frankly, are in my way.

They stand on the opposite side of a counter, looking at a terminal and cannot understand nor find what I need. I've become frustrated, wishing I could just turn the damned terminal around and search for myself. And that is what Amazon has done. It isn't the delivery convenience, they've literally turned the sale clerk's terminal around to present the information to me. And I can almost always find it more accurately and faster than dealing with employees.

Just a few recent examples:

While changing a trailer from surge to electric brakes, I entered a national auto parts store to buy new wheel hubs. Although I was armed with an accurate measure of the spindle and hole patterns, the young clerk was incapable of anything beyond asking "what year and make of car?". He obviously had never done anything significant on a vehicle, never replaced axles, bearing seals, nor brakes, and had no idea what to do beyond his rote questions. Since my trailer wasn't in his database he literally could not help me. Back home, 5 minutes on Amazon pulled up the hubs, bearings, and seals all in a kit, and they were on my doorstep in a few days.

My hot tub pump failed last month, and I visited the local swimming pool store to inquire about a replacement. The nice-but-clueless gal behind the counter pointed at a random pump on their shelf and opined "maybe that one will work". No idea that they come in different voltages, discharge configurations, gph, speeds, and wiring. Literally clueless. Giving up, I asked about replacement bromine/mineral cartridges. She wasn't sure what they were, and suggested (I swear this is true) that I go home and take a picture of the old ones, then return to see if she could find a match. Again, 5 minutes on Amazon got a perfect match for the pump, and a season's worth of cartridges to my door by week's end.

I'll skip the rest, but I can give you similar tales of Best Buy, Home Depot, and others. All with the same problem. The clerks know far less about the products than I do, and end up being an obstacle between me and the information I need to access.

I realize "Retail America" is stuck between a rock and hard place, since they can't pay wages to attract expertise to work in their stores. I'm just thankful Amazon is there to provide the information I need in order to buy.
  #33  
Old 02-27-2020, 12:07 PM
Ludovic is online now
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2000
Location: America's Wing
Posts: 31,019
I don't think the dead malls phenomenon is a shrinking space between high end and low end, although I'd agree that that is hurting brick and mortar retail in general.

I think it is the cost of maintaining additional indoor space and the fact that a portion of the population thinks a halfway-populated mall is creepy. After all, strip malls and "lifestyle centers"* are, if anything, still spreading, and they have the same mix of stores as malls did, they just have a lower overhead and people will still go if they're half-empty.

*Put in quotes because a lot of them are just high-end strip malls without any activities or housing.
  #34  
Old 02-27-2020, 12:18 PM
purplehorseshoe is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: Texas, USA
Posts: 10,465
You're not wrong, pullin. I'm a straight, white chick who owns one (1) cordless drill. But it's getting increasingly common for me to know more about tools, DIY repairs, and even fuckin' lumber and metalware than the orange aprons at Home Depot.

Used to be, you'd talk with an old, crusty fella at the hardware store who'd know exactly what you needed to do whatever projects you had in mind, and could offer advice or suggestions for the usual newbie mistakes.

Now, it's more efficient - and less prone to errors or bad information - to look up a YouTube tutorial and identify the supplies my damn self.

Last time I was at Home Depot and needed steel wire, I tried 3 different employees. They all assumed I was hanging a picture, and when told I was not they ... kinda fuzzed out mentally, like why would anyone need any kind of wire for anything else? None grasped that aluminum wire is a different thing, not interchangeable with steel ... which didn't matter since none could help me find the damn thing anyway. They only knew where the picture-hanging kits could be found.

Went home before I strangled one of them in sheer frustration, and ordered the damn wire off Amazon. Of course, since I couldn't see or touch it & the seller used a weird metric diameter measurement instead of standard gauge sizes, I got the wrong fucking wire.

Eventually drove way the fuck outta my way to get to one of those small, independent hardware stores staffed by crusty old fellers. Bought 3 spools, because fuck if I'm going through that bullshit again.
__________________
I can haz sig line?
  #35  
Old 02-27-2020, 12:22 PM
Dewey Finn is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 30,145
Quote:
Originally Posted by pullin View Post
There has been a fundamental shift in employees from the "olden" days. In the past, sales clerks knew more about their products than I did. This situation has reversed, and I find myself facing friendly, but inexperienced min-wage workers who, quite frankly, are in my way.
I think in part this is a consequence of a good job market, so the experienced staff at these retail stores are able to get better jobs elsewhere. During the next recession, you may see more overqualified retail employees.
  #36  
Old 02-27-2020, 01:01 PM
What Exit?'s Avatar
What Exit? is online now
Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Location: Central NJ (near Bree)
Posts: 30,116
Retail has it very tough, even Supermarkets are under more pressure these days. For big stores like Sears, Penny's & Macy's, Amazon and others are sucking away too many purchases and forcing lower margins.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Annie-Xmas View Post
...
I work in a high end discount store. I hope it stays open.
What does that mean? Like a Filene's Basement?
  #37  
Old 02-27-2020, 01:27 PM
JcWoman is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2014
Location: Virginia
Posts: 2,103
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dewey Finn View Post
I think in part this is a consequence of a good job market, so the experienced staff at these retail stores are able to get better jobs elsewhere. During the next recession, you may see more overqualified retail employees.
I disagree with this. I think it's a consequence of store owners and/or management hiring the cheapest workers they can (i.e. minimum wage) and not bothering to train them or motivate them. I know margins are thin, I'm right there in it. But when my shop grows large enough to support paid staff, I'm going to pay them properly for the work they do and treat them like professionals.

For example, there is this episode of The Profit: http://www.cnbc.com/live-tv/the-prof.../1655629379721 (I love this show!) Here's the TL;DR for anybody who doesn't want to spend 45 minutes watching it. Marcus goes to investigate a Los Angeles shop that sells hats. One of the sales clerks who works there is a HUGE fan of wearing hats. He also wears very dapper suits to go with the hat he personally wears, very stylish. After talking about the merchandise for a bit and being impressed that the clerk knows the merchandise, Marcus asks to buy a hat. This clerk does not just sell him a hat. He takes the hat, tries it on Marcus, puts it over a steamer to adjust the fit, explains to Marcus what he's doing and why, tries it on some more and adjusts it some more and even comments that he's going to adjust the shape of the front of the brim to better flatter the shape of Marcus' face. Marcus ended up not helping that shop owner fix her business, but as he walked out he told that clerk that he could work for him any time. That's what I want to do with my employees, when I get them.

Last edited by JcWoman; 02-27-2020 at 01:29 PM.
  #38  
Old 02-27-2020, 08:50 PM
RioRico is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Sep 2019
Location: beyond cell service
Posts: 2,418
I guess our little semi-rural county of 40,000 (only 20% of whom fill the state prison) supports a half-dozen sites that might be considered strip malls. None are anchored by big stores; a couple are anchored by thrift shops, the rest by grocers. All sites sport at least one empty storefront. The main streets in our quaint Gold Rush-era towns bustle with local specialty shops. Sears, KMart, and the largest auto dealership (where we got our last car) are gone. Wally's sits by itself, supplying the county with drugs, clothes, and toilet tissue. Amazon won't fly drones upcountry anytime soon, so we shop locally.

I'll estimate our online purchases as about 1% of our spending. We're located about midway between the capitals of California and Nevada so our CostCo and Trader Joe's buying depends on whether Kit Carson Pass is open. Macy's? MrsRico exploits their online 70%-off sales. Target? We saw one last year. Best Buy? Ditto. Dillard's? Not since 2011. JC Penny? Maybe around 1995. "Department" stores beside those modeled on Fred Meyer, such as WalMart, are irrelevant now. Customer service? That's nice.

What's retail's future in the US? (WalMart was the high-priced store in Zacatecas, Mexico.) People will shop grocers for fresh food and specialty shops when online isn't appropriate, like wanting something specific RIGHT NOW. People will enrich big box stores for convenience. Most Americans live in denser urbanities so expect surviving retailers to cater to them, delivery drones and all. Invest in drones now.

Last edited by RioRico; 02-27-2020 at 08:54 PM.
  #39  
Old 02-28-2020, 02:59 AM
msmith537 is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2001
Posts: 27,996
Quote:
Originally Posted by bump View Post
I think malls dying out and brick and mortar retail dying out are two nearly separate things. Malls are dying out due to the combined impacts of two things- internet sales AND the rise of big box stores. Big box stores take the lower-end of the mall traffic, while internet stores and more specialized retailers take the higher-end traffic.
I had heard that about malls as well, and yet the Mall of America company is building giant megamalls in New Jersey and Miami.
  #40  
Old 02-28-2020, 03:14 AM
nightshadea is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: May 2001
Location: a condo in hell 10th lvl
Posts: 6,267
funny in 1950 most of America shopped by catalog in 1990 it was the mall by 2000 it was amazon which is just an infinite catalog I wonder if around 2060 malls will become popular again due to cheap transportation and land and nostalgia .....
  #41  
Old 02-28-2020, 07:37 AM
JcWoman is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2014
Location: Virginia
Posts: 2,103
I do think that after the "trend" of buying clothes online passes, that at least will come back to brick and mortar. Off the rack clothes just don't fit well and it's mandatory that they be tried on. Right now what people are doing is buying them online, trying them on at home and then returning what doesn't fit. Which might often be the entire order.

However, some of the credit card processors are fighting back against refunding merchant processing fees. (If you refund your customer's order, they used to also refund the processing fee back to you so you're 0 out of pocket. But now they're keeping the fees even if you refund your customer.) Paypal stopped doing it last year and Shopify just recently did it too. I don't remember if Square is still refunding the fees, and of course the retailers big enough to have their own agreements with the credit card companies have their own thing going. At any rate, in a small business forum I lurk in someone made the very astute comment that this trend is going to really kill online clothing stores.
  #42  
Old 02-28-2020, 08:04 AM
jaycat is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Nov 2014
Posts: 1,679
Karma's a bitch. The malls killed off the downtowns. Now the internet is killing off the malls. Someday, something we can't picture right now will kill off internet shopping. I'd like to hope the downtowns will return to do the job...
  #43  
Old 02-28-2020, 08:10 AM
Snowboarder Bo's Avatar
Snowboarder Bo is offline
Member
 
Join Date: May 2005
Location: Las Vegas
Posts: 28,935
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dewey Finn View Post
I think in part this is a consequence of a good job market, so the experienced staff at these retail stores are able to get better jobs elsewhere. During the next recession, you may see more overqualified retail employees.
I think that's ridiculous and completely unsupported by facts.
  #44  
Old 02-28-2020, 08:54 AM
bump is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jun 2000
Location: Dallas, TX
Posts: 19,388
Quote:
Originally Posted by Snowboarder Bo View Post
I think that's ridiculous and completely unsupported by facts.
Which part- the good job market? That's hard to argue- we're near a 50 year low unemployment rate. Which then means that what he's saying could actually be true- why would someone with knowledge stick around and work at Home Depot (for example), if the job market is tight enough such that there are higher paying jobs elsewhere with their skills in mind? Considering that construction jobs pay more than Home Depot and are also generally suitable for the sort of people who would make highly skilled HD workers, it's entirely logical and reasonable to think that's exactly what would happen.

That's how the labor market generally works- the more skill/specialized/unique knowledge you have that's useful, the more you get paid, as the assumption is that the rarity of your knowledge/experience/skill is commensurate with your degree of skill. So a Home Depot guy with relevant home remodeling experience or construction experience may well make more money working in construction, or at a more specialized store, like a commercial supplier, leaving Home Depot with the people willing to work for their measly money.

That's why a burger flipper makes minimum wage, and Gerrit Cole makes millions- there is ONE player with Cole's skills and abilities, and that's him. It's why no major league team will pay me a dime to play baseball- I stink!

Meanwhile, there are literally hundreds of millions of people who can watch a timer and flip a burger. So sports owners are willing to pay Cole a LOT, while that burger flipper can easily be replaced with someone else willing to work for minimum wage, if the burger flipper doesn't perform, doesn't show up, has a bad attitude, etc... And that also means that there's no incentive to pay him more- why would you, if you can replace him with someone equally capable of flipping burgers for minimum wage?

The flip side is that when things go sideways economically, those construction jobs may dry up; at that point, Home Depot can hire that guy for their measly wage, as that's what the market will bear for that particular skill and experience level in lieu of available construction jobs.
  #45  
Old 02-28-2020, 09:54 AM
Dorjän is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Euclid, OH
Posts: 2,283
Quote:
Originally Posted by JcWoman View Post

For example, there is this episode of The Profit: http://www.cnbc.com/live-tv/the-prof.../1655629379721 (I love this show!) Here's the TL;DR for anybody who doesn't want to spend 45 minutes watching it. Marcus goes to investigate a Los Angeles shop that sells hats. One of the sales clerks who works there is a HUGE fan of wearing hats. He also wears very dapper suits to go with the hat he personally wears, very stylish. After talking about the merchandise for a bit and being impressed that the clerk knows the merchandise, Marcus asks to buy a hat. This clerk does not just sell him a hat. He takes the hat, tries it on Marcus, puts it over a steamer to adjust the fit, explains to Marcus what he's doing and why, tries it on some more and adjusts it some more and even comments that he's going to adjust the shape of the front of the brim to better flatter the shape of Marcus' face. Marcus ended up not helping that shop owner fix her business, but as he walked out he told that clerk that he could work for him any time. That's what I want to do with my employees, when I get them.
Did Marcus buy the hat? How much did that one hat cost, for the level of service provided? How much time did all of that customer servicing, fitting, and refitting take, to sell that one hat (assuming he actually bought it). How many hats have to be sold this way for that place to pay the rent and provide the owner/employees with livable income? I'm honestly amazed that places like this can stay in business period.
  #46  
Old 02-28-2020, 10:35 AM
kenobi 65's Avatar
kenobi 65 is offline
Corellian Nerfherder
 
Join Date: May 2000
Location: Brookfield, IL
Posts: 17,311
Quote:
Originally Posted by msmith537 View Post
I had heard that about malls as well, and yet the Mall of America company is building giant megamalls in New Jersey and Miami.
Something like the Mall of America is very different from a typical shopping mall -- it's primarily a tourist destination, and it draws a substantial portion of its visitors from outside of the local area of the mall itself.

So, shopping malls, in general, dying off, and the Mall of America maybe still thriving, are two different things.
  #47  
Old 02-28-2020, 10:47 AM
Dewey Finn is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 30,145
Both Miami and New York are major tourist destinations, particularly for people from outside the US, so perhaps that's why they chose those two locations. And as I understand it, a good part of the Mall of America is devoted to stuff like an amusement park, an aquarium, movie theaters and so forth. Stuff you have to do in person, rather than ordering from Amazon. I see the same thing at the mall near where I grew up. There's a multiplex there now, along with a Dave & Busters and lots of restaurants.
  #48  
Old 02-28-2020, 10:48 AM
Shoeless's Avatar
Shoeless is online now
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: The Sunflower State
Posts: 7,188
Quote:
Originally Posted by zbuzz View Post
Those fake sales were actually propping up JC Penney. Customers liked feeling like they had gotten a bargain (even if in reality they probably hadn't) and that kept them coming back. JCP was still struggling overall, but it was killing off the fake sales in around 2012 in favor of simple, "fair and square" pricing that pushed them out of the frying pan and into the dumpster fire.
I didn't have as much of a problem with the pricing change as most people. I actually thought it was a good idea. I used to do most of my clothes buying at Penney's, especially their Arizona jeans and their Oxford cloth dress shirts. It would drive me crazy to have to wait until the clothes I needed were "on sale" so that I could get a shirt or jeans for $20 instead of the marked-up $40.

But around the same time as the change in pricing model, they also cut store inventory roughly in half. And they remodeled the stores to look more spacious, when really all they were doing was covering up the fact that there was less merchandise to display.

I used to have a whole closet full of Oxford shirts in literally every color of the rainbow. Now all I can find at Penney's are white, blue, and a hideous bright pink. And the only Arizona jeans I can find anymore are the ones targeted for people half my age -- no more plain old relaxed fit boot cut jeans, just the baggy ripped ones that look like they've been soaking in grease.

So I quit shopping at Penney's, and apparently so did everyone else, because our local Penney's closed down about 2-3 years ago. But when I have an opportunity to go to a Penney's in some other city, it's still the same crappy selection, so I've pretty much given up on them.
__________________
"We can all sink or we all float
'Cuz we're all in the same big boat"

- The Police, "One World"
  #49  
Old 02-28-2020, 11:46 AM
installLSC is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: Tacoma, WA
Posts: 2,715
I wonder if stores are intentionally trying to move customers online to save on inventory and staffing costs. There have been multiple times this last year, in stores ranging from Nordstrom to Penney's, where I have been told this color/size isn't in stock but can be bought online. Or worse yet, told an item bought in-store can't be shipped to a specific address--but will be shipped if I buy it online.
  #50  
Old 02-28-2020, 11:58 AM
Brayne Ded is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Nov 2017
Location: Europe
Posts: 586

In Europe


Europe did not take to malls in the same way, but one development was of hypermarkets just outside a town, with good road access and parking. They might be within a mall, or on their own. They usually had a dramatic effect on the local downtown retailers.

My feeling is that bricks and mortar survives if it can meet the need for some product that you need right then, or which you need to look at or even try on. It's hard buying shoes online, as the actual size and fit of shoes of the same nominal size can vary quite a bit. The problem for a local retailer is how much to stock. An online retailer can keep more in a central warehouse - or fall back on the the not uncommon "allows 28 days for delivery". I might as well order it from China myself in that case - and maybe that will the next big thing in retailing.

Online sales are great in some ways, the prices are usually better and you can usually find enough details to know you are getting the right thing. But there is always the guilt feeling that trees died for the packaging, and a CO2-exuding van has to deliver it. Plus the fact that shipping costs put a dent in the savings.

That said, Amazon et al are fantastic are if you in a place with few local shops. I can order things that no local retailer has. Or even from another country, since I can use Amazon Germany to deliver to Poland. The only thing is that there are some items that cannot be shipped to another country, and some retailers won't either.
Reply

Bookmarks

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 03:59 PM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2020, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

Send questions for Cecil Adams to: cecil@straightdope.com

Send comments about this website to: webmaster@straightdope.com

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Advertise on the Straight Dope!
(Your direct line to thousands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.)

Copyright © 2019 STM Reader, LLC.

 
Copyright © 2017