Feb. 28, 2016, 9:01 PM
Department stores and specialty retailers have faced declining sales recently, with brands from Macy’s to Gap closing stores.
Many people are pinning the apparel industry’s recent struggles on unseasonably warm weather, which could discourage the purchase of winter clothing.
But there might be another problem that few people are addressing: consumer boredom.
“Today’s retailers face a tsunami of problems but none, in my opinion is more deadly than the pandemic of sheer consumer boredom that shoppers are being subjected to,” retail expert Doug Stephens writes on his blog, The Retail Prophet. “Most retail is just painfully boring. In fact, the majority of store chains, malls and shopping centers have become beacons of boredom, monuments to mediocrity and havens of ho hum.”
Stephens gives an example of a category buyer at Macy’s who is guided by the obvious: sales. If a product won’t sell in droves, then it’s not worth putting it on the shelves, he says.
“And it is for that one single reason — anticipated square foot sales volume — that a plethora of unique, fun, fashionable and fascinating products will likely never see the light of day on the sales floor,” he writes. “Now, repeat the Macy’s buyer mandate across the thousands and thousands of retail buyers, each of whom follow the same essential rule, and soon every store in the mall begins to look the same. Every mall looks vaguely like the next. And voila…mass boredom!”