retail news in context, analysis with attitude

The New York Business Journal reports on a new study from WSL Strategic Retail suggesting a change in shopper mindsets - that "shoppers have become more financially responsible, and that they’re looking to lead a less stressful life, spend more time with family, and travel. Retailers, from mass to luxury, initially blamed their across-the-board downturn in sales on post-recession, but it’s gone on long enough to now indicate a sea change that is going to affect retailers going forward."

The story goes on to say that the study "found that for 55 percent of women, their No. 1 priority is paying off debt, followed by saving (48 percent) and then vacations (35 percent). As shoppers, 8 out of 10 are simplifying how they take care of their homes and are making easier meals, seven out of 10 are adopting simpler beauty routines, and six out of 10 are spending less time shopping. Two-thirds of those surveyed are staying home more." The changes are said to be "a culmination of things that sort of layered atop one another, including in recent years, a recession that made consumers fearful of overspending, followed by a rise in the use of technology that made price comparisons and online shopping simpler."

“This shift is really foundational and it’s deep in the soul and psyche of the American people,” says WSL CEO Wendy Liebmann. “Here we are, eight years after the recession, 15 years after 9/11, and 20 years after Amazon, and the recognition is hitting [retailers] that this is fundamental.”
KC's View:
While I think one has to be careful about painting with too broad a brush about consumers, and it is dangerous to think them as any one thing, a lot of these conclusions strike me as being entirely reasonable.

Some of this may be driven by the fact that Baby Boomers, as we get older, may be simplifying our lives and getting rid of stuff ... and while we're no longer the biggest generation, we're still pretty sizable. And I suppose it is possible that our kids may be less acquisitive in nature than we were at their age, when the adage was that "he who dies with the most toys wins." Though again, one must be cautious about drawing too many conclusions.

It also is critical to understand how technology has enabled all this - these days, we can do almost everything from our homes, from vacation, from mass transit...which allows us to reorder our priorities. All of which, I think is a good thing.