The Future of Clothes Shopping

September 13, 2016

It is big news these days. As Macy’s closes 100 stores, it is clear that retail shopping is changing dramatically. Target, J.C. Penney, the Gap, Sears and Kohls are all following suit as reported by recently.(1) And, many other stores, like J. Crew, Banana Republic, Ann Taylor and Anthropologie are struggling, says a story in the Washington Post. (2)

What does this mean for the future of shopping?

Plain and simple…it is changing.

But, while everyone thinks that the entire world is choosing to shop exclusively online rather than in stores, that is actually not true. While some women prefer the convenience of shopping from home, others do not like that there are too many variables and they dislike returning items. They prefer to shop in a store where they can feel the fabric, try something on and buy it or leave it there without having to go to the post office constantly.

From my experience with my clients and all that I am reading, I see that many women do a mix of online and in-store shopping. And many stores are making the combination attractive to women by offering free shipping and free returns or the ability to return items to the brick and mortar stores.

In a recent article (, those who prefer to shop in store, mentioned that they do so because it “lets me see and feel the products before I buy” while those who preferred online shopping cited their top reason as, “saving money.” But “shopping is easier” was the second reason in both categories.

Clearly, it’s a very personal decision.

But, the real story is not about online vs. in-store shopping. It’s deeper than that.

My favorite article of all talks about a reason I have expressed for some time now. From a article,(3) Mallory Schlossberg writes, “No one is talking about a major reason that people aren’t shopping for clothes in stores.”

Do you know what that reason is?

Consumer boredom.


I was beginning to think I am crazy, but I knew I couldn’t possibly be the only one who feels this way. Now I know I am not.

The businessinsider article continues…“What we see is there really haven’t been any major shifts in trends,” Gabriella Santaniello, analyst and founder of A Line Partners, told Business Insider, pointing to how the most recent major trend was when skinny jeans made it onto the market. “The trends kind of stayed the same, so a lot of these customers already have what they’re looking for in their closet.”

And, this startling statement from the article…“Quite simply, retailers aren’t giving consumers a need to go shopping.”

And, I would like to add to this.

Not only is retail not giving us new trends, but what is sticking around is boring or downright unflattering on many people. I mean, how many oversized sweaters can one person have? Or, the tops that look like hospital johnnies…what’s that about? Telling us once again that black and white are the go-to colors or being unable to find a women’s blazer that doesn’t look like every other men’s-style blazer out there has made shopping less satisfying than it used to be.

My perspective was reinforced again when a client sent me this article, ‘Why are sales suffering at so many women’s stores? They made bad clothes,’ as reported recently in the Washington Post.(2) The title says it all!

Believe me, I take no pleasure in this. Not only is it more frustrating for women, in general, to shop, but it makes my job ten times harder.

You would not believe how much time I spend these days searching for interesting styles for my clients—not just the ‘same old/same old’ stuff we’ve seen for the past 3 years, but interesting styles in beautiful colors. I keep reminding myself that this too shall pass and eventually the designers will wake up. As Mallory Schlossberg says, “the majority of store chains, malls and shopping centers have become beacons of boredom, monuments of mediocrity and havens of ho hum.” While this might be a bit harsh and is not true all the time or everywhere, the overall experience of shopping has been this way for some time. I still shop successfully in malls with my clients, but I also have a collection of smaller store shopping experiences for my clients to help squelch the boredom factor and renew the excitement.

I completely understand that owning a store is a tricky business—I wouldn’t want to own one. And, it’s understandable that brick and mortar stores are leery of bringing in styles that might be a bust. They don’t want to be stuck with items that sit forever on the clearance rack. I know from having sold makeup and skin care that it is frustrating and costly to have items that don’t sell and just sit on the shelves. So, they stick with what feels tried and true. But, inciting consumer apathy obviously is not a better alternative.

Of course, retailers can only sell what the designers create, and designers seem to be putting out the same old stuff, too. But don’t despair, there are options out there, you just have to look harder. This is okay if you enjoy the idea of a treasure hunt, but not so great if you hate to shop or don’t have time to do all the leg work.

And, as Mallory Schlossberg suggests about consumer apathy, “This could be ameliorated if retailers were bold.” Clearly, sticking with what is known is not working, so maybe boldness is the answer. Let’s see who takes the first step.

Have you felt the same way or differently? I would love to know what your recent shopping experience has been.

Do you shop mostly in the stores or online?
Have you found it easy to find what you want or are you bored with or frustrated by the options?
Do you have a favorite store (brick and mortar or online)?
Are they your tried and true stores or have you discovered new options?
Are you not shopping and make do with what you already have?

No matter what, the one thing you can be sure of in the world of fashion is that it is always changing. Hold tight and eventually something new will come along—fingers crossed it’s worth waiting for!

Has consumer boredom and frustration got you down? Let’s talk and see how to get you unstuck. Book a call to explore how I can help HERE. Want results super fast? Ask about my one and two day intensives.


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