Shopping malls are becoming less and less relevant amongst the American consumer, being outshined by sites like Amazon, Ebay, Etsy, and Overstock. A study conducted by UPS states that millennials now make 54% of purchases online,
According to Business Insider Magazine, 89,000 workers in retail lost their jobs from October of 2016 to April of 2017 (this is more than the number of people employed in the entire US coal industry, says the New York Times). This has obvious negative effects on the economy. Those who are laid off from retail jobs then have less money to spend, and therefore are less likely to make purchases at retail stores.
Because of this decline in brick-and-mortar shopping, many department stores have found themselves faced with the reality of closing their doors. This isn’t just a national phenomenon; it’s happening in our community. The Nordstrom at Dulles Town Centre announced its plans to close after being in business for 15 years.
For many, the choice to shop online is a matter of influence. According to bigcommerce.com, a website specializing in online sales, the top three factors in online shopping that are very or extremely influential in determining why Americans shop online are price (87%), shipping cost and speed (80%) and discount offers (71%).
“I shop online because of the convenience of not having to go to a store,” junior KC Dizon said. “It saves time even though sometimes you might spend a little more money on shipping. Since we live in a small town, commercial stores are harder to get to… I think the time and money saved on gas makes up for a few extra dollars on shipping, which sometimes is free.”
Still, however, there is a large percentage of those who still prefer the traditional approach to shopping. As states in the same study done by BigCommerce.com, 34% said difficult to return items and long delivery estimates dissuaded them from shopping online. 49% of Americans cite not being able to touch, feel or try a product as one of their least favorite aspects of online shopping.
“[I prefer] mall shopping… there is a wide variety and [I have] the option to try on the clothes before I spend money on them,” freshman Angela Palese said.
Aside from online shopping and shopping in big-box and department stores, there are those who are drawn to the charm and nostalgia-inducing qualities of the small business. Although surrounded by brand names and cookie cutter fashion, Purcellville provides a handful of niche shops, like Nostalgia and Piper Dan’s Keltic Shoppe, with one of a kind products. Like these shops, Twigs is a locally owned business that carries home decor and women’s apparel.
Despite the abundance of products and shops that malls provide owner of Twigs Amy turner feels that small businesses have something special to offer.
”In a nutshell, I would say it’s the personal service, unique items,and awareness of shopping local that brings in our loyal customers,”Turner said.
This article first appeared in our October issue of our news magazine.