Aeropostale, Macy’s, GAP, HMV, Barnes & Noble, Borders, Sears and JCPenney – all of these retail stores have something in common: store closures.
With online shopping becoming the go-to for consumers these days, it’s not surprising that retail outlets are falling by the wayside.
A survey conducted annually by comScore and UPS found that consumers made 51 per cent of their purchases through online shopping last year – a figure that has been trending upward for several years.
The choice to shop online may be more convenient for those purchasing, however, online shopping has had a negative impact on brick-and-mortar stores.
In the U.S., there has been a sudden wave of retail closures, some of which are seeing Canadian branches ceasing operations.
In 2016 alone, retailers such as French Connection, Danier, Target, Aeropostale, Smart Set and Costa Blanca closed their doors for good in Canada, and the list of closures within the U.S. is even longer.
For some, online shopping is a matter of convenience. “I have an Amazon Prime account, so for around $40 a year, I get free, two-day shipping on almost everything I buy, which is super convenient,” says Bobbi Champagne, of Toronto.
“Shopping online, I find, is usually cheaper even if you do have to pay shipping and there’s always way more selection than in store. Another plus for me is that I don’t have to go to a store and talk to people.”
Miranda Veide, a mother of one from St. Catharines, says, “I choose to do online shopping, unfortunately because life just gets too busy to go and spend a day in a mall going from store to store hoping to find what you are looking for. It’s so much easier to click a few buttons and have it arrive on your doorstep, sometimes within two days.”
Department stores, the biggest victims of the online shopping epidemic, are closing faster than consumers can keep track. Even Wal-Mart has faced closures in recent years.
According to an article in Forbes, published June 2, 2016, this is where department stores go wrong:
Department stores are built around the idea that customers come to the store for inspiration and discovery, however, in recent years things have changed. Consumers now look to the Internet for their inspiration – social media, blogs, etc., and when they want to buy their specific products, they often choose the cheapest retailer, meaning that department stores are left scrambling to adjust prices in order to cater to what consumers want.
Lack of uniqueness:
When it comes to buying clothing, department stores often cannot keep up with retailers like Zara and H&M, who can put out new fashions consistently each month. Department stores such as
Macy’s, Sears and Hudson’s Bay have to keep up with clothing retailers, and despite featuring certain brands such as Ralph Lauren and Coach, they can’t afford to go out on a limb for something that hasn’t been proven to sell.
This often means that several mall anchor stores carry the exact same products as one another, for about the same price. Independent brands carried by these retailers often turn to the Internet to sell their products, where they can ensure that their brand is well-represented and that their full assortment of items is displayed, as opposed to the same five or six styles and lines available in every department store.
Little to no value to add:
Thanks to the world of online shopping, you can easily find great brands wherever you’d like to, regardless of which store is carrying them. With the click of a button, you can compare the prices at seven different retailers, as opposed to driving to your local Hudson’s Bay and buying the item for whatever price they have, simply because it’s the only option.
It’s not all bad news though – discount retailers, such as Winners, TJ Maxx and Marshalls, have reported increases in customers. These stores do not have online shopping options in Canada, and each individual store has different products, providing benefits for choosing them over a typical retail store.
While this may not be the death of retail shopping, the growth of consumers buying online proves challenging for shopping centres and malls, which once thrived on the fact that society depended on them for their shopping needs.
Stores closing in North America (2017):
Macy’s (68 stores)
Sears (48 stores)
Kmart (108 stores)
Trader Joe’s (all stores)
CVS Pharmacy (70 stores)
HMV Canada (all stores)
American Apparel (all stores)
The Limited (all stores)
Aeropostale (570 stores – U.S.)
American Eagle Outfitters (150 stores)
Chico’s (120 stores)
The Children’s Place (200 stores)
Jos. A Banks/Men’s Warehouse (250 stores)
Office Depot (300 stores)