Why Retail is an Epic Fail

This might seem like a strange post for a minimalist blog, but I feel like it’s something that I need to bring up. These days, news reports detailing declining retail sales are ubiquitous and retailers are always quick to lay blame with consumers, the economy and lack of wage growth etc. However, as a minimalist, I’ve always wondered if part of the retail decline is up and coming generations hitting back at consumerism and saying ‘no’ to purchasing excessive amounts of stuff.

But a recent experience, has left me thinking that the retail epic fail is more to do with retailers themselves than with consumers. Over a period of two days I visited two popular Australian retailers. David Jones (major Australian department store) and House (kitchenware chain store). Prior to my retail outing I researched online the items I required (to reduce the amount of stores I would visit and also reduce any chance of impulse buying). With my two target stores chosen I headed in to David Jones on day one. However, I couldn’t find what I wanted on the shelf. Now nine times out of ten if I don’t see what I want, I just walk away and either go somewhere else or shop online. But on this particular occasion I decided to ask if the item was in stock because there happened to be a free staff member (a rarity). I was advised upon asking that they had one out the back…Out the back? But I can’t buy something that’s out the back…

Day two took me to House and I had a quick look around but again, couldn’t see what I was after. Now once again, I normally don’t ask but based on my experience the day before I decided I would. Wouldn’t you know it? They had what I wanted…out the back. Out the back again???

Again, I will emphasise that I normally don’t ask for things. If I don’t see it, I walk. How many other people out there are like that too? Retailers of the world take note: If it’s not on the shelf, it’s really hard to sell it.

So, based on my recent experience I think it’s spectacularly unfair retailers want to blame consumers for not spending. Maybe people are trying to spend? Most occasions when I’m in Myer (another major Australian department store- rival of David Jones) I have this feeling it’s probably easier to shoplift than it is to find someone to actually take my money (not that I ever would).

Perhaps the minimalist movement hasn’t impacted retail as much as I thought it might have and retailers just need to take a long hard look at themselves and stop trying to shift the blame.

What do you think about failing retail stores?