Americans Return to the Stores

Beware of “trend” stories, but this one from the Wall Street Journal suggests a believable pendulum swing back to brick-and-mortar shopping. Believable, because some buying is best done with tactile or other sensory judgments; because it is sometimes serendipitous, and because it can be part of a natural social experience when the stores are well laid out and managed. Some destination shops such as Trader Joe’s eschewed remote commerce anyway. The warehouse stores have websites that can be useful for certain products but even the staples seem to attract plenty of in-person “members.” Plus, the delivery economy is still sorting out costs and profitability. Amazon, which has unusually mastered the game, continues to raise fees on its now-captive customer base. The others in the bring-it-to-you business are struggling with how they pay for personnel and fuel. Where there are plenty of nearby wallets to pluck–and this may exclude office districts in major cities–I suspect the shopping-aisle lights will stay on for quite awhile.

Published by timwferguson

Longtime writer-editor, focusing on topics of business and policy, global and local.

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