An Old American Shopping Tradition Is Dying

Economics |

Americans are creatures of habit. It turns out that no matter how hard we try, humans as a species are programmed to do things in a certain way. Shopping is a great American tradition and people are following certain trends when it does come to shopping. There are a few top traditions, and certain holidays that go along with them. 

Back-to-school shopping has been a mainstay for kids and parents alike since the ‘60’s. Kids get excited about their new school supplies and outfits while their parents shudder at the idea of crowded stores and picked-over shelves. Frenzied spending is one of the hallmarks of this time before school. People are also thinking about the holiday shopping season and are making sure to get all of their ducks in a row so that they don’t have to fight the crowds. Some have taken their shopping expeditions online, but more people are avoiding stores.

According to Mark Cohen, the former CEO of Sears Canada, back-to-school shopping has entirely disappeared. Retailers have seen the end-of-summer shopping trends go down in the past few years. Cohen is now the director of retail studies at Columbia Business School and has a qualified view of what is happening to the American shopper. He says that the industry is almost Armageddon-like and is racing to hit bottom prices. Sales like the ones that occur constantly today, used to be a once per year event. He says that dozens of retailers have reported bad traffic and downtrends in sales.

People have blamed these downtrends on increasing amounts of sales. There seems to be one or two or twenty happening at any given time. They used to be once per season or once per year but they aren’t anymore. The highly competitive nature of the industry drives everything to become a rock bottom price. People aren’t purchasing things unless they’re on sale anymore. If they’re not on sale, they will eventually go on sale. That is the mentality of the American shopper today. So they stay patient and they buy less. All merchandise eventually goes to clearance. Things aren’t selling out anymore either so inventory is becoming a problem too. 

Macy’s, Sears, J. Crew and Nordstrom have all reported a downtrend. This year is a particularly low point for retailers as more and more people shift to online shopping and delivery services offering to do your shopping for you, it seems like people are finding that crowded stores are just not for them anymore. You can get people to deliver things on apps, and Amazon has revealed “Amazon Fresh”, a grocery service that allows you to order your weekly things online like Pizza. People are finding that shopping isn’t enjoyable and that they can do other things with their time besides stand in line. Apparently these trends are making it difficult for people to figure out where the retail industry is going. Most industries are able to predict trends to a point, but analysts haven’t quite figured out what is happening. It seems that the rise of online shopping isn’t helping brick-and-mortar stores. This does not come as a surprise. 

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Amy Haren


Amy comes from a family of literary geniuses. Her mother and father were published many times in many different publications throughout the world for not only their stories but their photos. Growing up reading the stories her parents wrote, Amy fell in love with animals and travel. She travels when she can and usually heads for the jungles or oceans.