As I travel around the country working with America’s
retailers, I hear the same complaint over and over again.
Their customer base is shrinking. Store aisles once jammed
with shoppers are now empty.
The simple truth is that 21st century consumers are not nearly
as enamored with the retail shopping experience as they were
during the 1990s. The tight economy coupled with concerns over
terrorist attacks have combined to bring about a shift in
priorities among America ‘s consumers. Family and home are
paramount, far outdistancing any desires for new possessions.
During the relatively peaceful economic good times of the 90s,
Americans loved to shop. Many interviewed for America’s
Research Group’s Consumer Mind Reader ™ Survey said they often
shopped eight to 10 stores during the Christmas shopping
season. Now they tell us they only shop three to five stores
at Christmas time.
The sharp decline in shopping is of concern to the entire
retail community, especially those who are experiencing it
first hand. Major department stores were especially hard hit
last year by significant losses in their customer base.
Traditionally among the top five most popular shopping
destinations attracting a third or more of all shoppers, major
department stores plummeted in 2002 to 22.5%.
I caution retailers not to expect the love of shopping to
return anytime soon. When asked whether they plan to spend
more or less during 2003 than last year, nearly 80 percent of
consumers told us they will spend the same amount or less.
Only one in five expects to spend more this year than last.
We are seeing the end result of the vanishing customer every
day. Many retailers have been forced out of business, and
corporate bankruptcies are rampant across all retail
The jolt needed to jump start spending again may be outside
the control of the retail community. Hopefully most will
weather this economic storm and live to sell another day.
Those who plan to survive would be wise to heed the words of
their former customers, who tell us one key reason they have
stopped shopping particular stores is lack of new product.
Stock your shelves with new appealing products and you stand a
better chance of luring your customer back.
Simply put, if your customers don’t see new products they
won’t see you.
TOP 10 STORES SHOPPED AT CHRISTMAS
- Discount Stores---89.5%
- Drug Stores---60.5%
- National Department Stores---40.4%
- Toy Stores---31.6%
- Book Stores---30.3%
- Music Stores---29.3%
- Home Improvement Stores---29.1%
- Apparel Stores---27.3%
- Appliance/Electronics/Computer Stores---27.2%
- Membership Warehouse Clubs---25.2%
- Discount Stores---90.3%
- Drug Stores---60.6%
- National Department Stores---49.7%
- Toy Stores---41.7%
- Major Department Stores---34.6%
- Book Stores---32.9%
- Appliance/Electronics/Computer Stores---28.3%
- Membership Warehouse Clubs---28.0%
- Home Improvement Stores---26.6%
- Music Stores---24.1%
- Discount Stores---89.7%
- Drug Stores---60.3%
- National Department Stores---57.6%
- Toy Stores---38.6%
- Major Department Stores---32.3%
- Appliance/Electronics/Computer Stores---32.0%
- Apparel Stores---31.7%
- Home Improvement Stores---30.1%
- Book Stores---26.7%
- Membership Warehouse Clubs---24.8%
Britt Beemer, founder and chairman of America’s Research
Group, is author of two best-selling business books, Predatory
Marketing and It Takes a Prophet to Make a Profit. More
detailed information is available on the America’s Research
Group website at