Saturday, August 22, 2020

In Store Retail Therapy Is No Longer Therapeutic Thanks to COVID-19


It is no secret that I have indulged in retail therapy for decades in my quest to support the US economy (of course) and to give myself that little boost of joy that comes from shopping. During the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s I roamed the various shopping malls in Indianapolis, Plano, St.Louis, Dallas, Hong Kong, Chicago, Palo Alto, Northern Virginia and suburban Maryland. During my time in Plano, Texas I may have spent as much time at the recently demolished Collin Creek Mall as anywhere else in the vicinity. 

Over the last 15 years my love of malls disintegrated and I've migrated to boutiques and online shopping. After the gloriously independent department stores such as L.S. Ayres, Blocks, Lazarus, Marshall Fields, Foley's, Joske's, Woodward & Lothrop, Wanamaker's, Jordan Marsh, Famous-Barr, Sanger- Harris, Hechts, Strawbridge, I.Magnin, Filene's, Parisian, Gump's, Garfinkel's, and Jacobson's closed or were gobbled up by Federated and May Company,   the remaining or consolidated department stores all sold the same clothes and housewares.  And much of the merchandise on offer is of significantly lower quality, such as the  Tools of the Trade stainless steel pans I bought at Macy's (when it was really Macy's) in 1985 that I still use today.It is a big yawn. 

COVID-19 will change the retail landscape yet again. Here is a link to a Moneywise article detailing the retail establishments that are closing permanently as a result of the virus:

After my experience this morning, which is the first time I've entered a store other than a grocery store, WalMart, Target, Petco, Lowes or Home Depot since March 14th, I plan to stick with online shopping. The store was packed with merchandise marked down 70% because customers had no place to wear new clothes over the summer (although I do dress professionally and wear makeup for Zoom calls). The dressing rooms are large, private, and could allow for one customer in every other cubicle; however, only one customer was allowed in the dressing rooms at a time. Only one cash register was open. It wasn't fun. It was frustrating. Instead of retail therapy, it was just one more inconvenient example of how drastically our world has changed since March. 

It appears as of the rules are applied inconsistently to different segments of the retail industry. Whole Foods in Indianapolis was buzzing with activity and minimal social distancing last week. But independent restaurants are prohibited from serving at their bars - even with stools separated by 6 feet. Boutiques are struggling. But state run liquor stores have remained open. 

So, I'll shop from my comfy leather chair with my cat on my shoulders and my laptop on my curled up legs while sipping ice tea or coffee or a nice Cabernet and wait eagerly for a delivery from FedEx, UPS or the USPS - instead of the Wells Fargo wagon of yore. At least my favorite local winery, Rappahannock Cellars,  offered free shipping during COVID !

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