Monday, January 26, 2009

Further homogenization of our shopping experience

I've posted before about the number of stores that will close as a result of this recession. But now it looks as though the need to cut costs will also reduce the diversity of items we can buy.

For years we've seen the homogenization of America. Every strip mall is the same. It's brand marketing gone mad, a Pottery Barn in every mall with the same products as every other Pottery Barn. Tiffanys in more places than there are people to buy little blue boxes. Starbucks on every corner. No wonder the French (and not only the French!) want to keep our culture out - they want to have authentic, original shopping experiences.

But now, as a result of the dramatic slow down in spending, AP reports that stores will be further reducing variety.
The new discipline will be mostly good news for shoppers, who will find stores less cluttered and see an array of products at lower prices, from ordinary groceries to jeans from brands they could once only aspire to.
Of course, the downside is that consumers who want something out of the ordinary _ an olive green prom dress, for example _ may have to look harder. Stores are rooting out offbeat, unpopular colors and styles, which will mean fewer choices."

The fundamental problem is that no one knows if consumer spending will ever come back to the levels it was at before - as the CEO Nieman Marcus said "Customers wanted and wanted and wanted some more and we sold and sold and sold some more".... Now, "frugality is more important."

No kidding!

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